hCAP-18/LL-37 is an antimicrobial peptide that is mainly expressed in epithelial cells. Gingival epithelial cells play pivotal roles in antimicrobial defense by expressing hCAP-18/LL-37. Porphyromonas gingivalis is a primary pathogen for chronic periodontitis and produces cysteine proteinase gingipains, which induce proinflammatory cytokines production, leading to enhance inflammatory responses. In contrast, gingipains attenuate immune responses, leading to induce anti-inflammatory responses. In this study, we investigated the ability of gingipains to attenuate P. gingivalis-induced hCAP-18/LL-37 production by human gingival epithelial Ca9-22 cells. The expression of LL-37 mRNA was increased by the infection of Ca9-22 cells with a P. gingivalis gingipains-null mutant KDP136 compared with P. gingivalis wild-type strain ATCC 33277. Interleukin (IL)-33 is involved in the development of chronic inflammatory diseases, and P. gingivalis infection increases IL-33 production by human gingival epithelial cells. P. gingivalis-induced LL-37 mRNA expression was augmented in IL-33 small interfering RNA-transfected Ca9-22 cells. Maxacalcitol (22-oxacalcitriol: OCT) is a biologically active metabolite of vitamin D3 analog, and OCT increases hCAP-18/LL-37 production by human gingival epithelial cells. The increasing expression of LL-37 mRNA by OCT was down-regulated by infection of the cells with P. gingivalis ATCC 33277 in Ca9-22 cells. Furthermore, P. gingivalis infection induced IL-33 mRNA expression in Ca9-22 cells; therefore, P. gingivalis-induced endogenous IL-33 down-regulated hCAP-18/LL-37 production by the bacterium. These findings suggested that endogenous IL-33 down-regulates the induction of hCAP-18/LL-37 production in human gingival epithelial cells.
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