Oral fibroblasts modulate the macrophage response to bacterial challenge

Rinat Tzach-Nahman, Rizan Nashef, Omer Fleissig, Aharon Palmon, Lior Shapira, Asaf Wilensky, Gabriel Nussbaum*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Tissue damage in chronic periodontal disease is driven by the host response to a dysbiotic microbiota, and not by bacteria directly. Among chronic inflammatory diseases of the oral cavity, inflammation and tissue damage around dental implants (peri-implantitis) is emerging as a major clinical challenge, since it is more severe and less responsive to treatment compared to inflammation around natural teeth. We tested whether oral fibroblasts from the periodontal ligament (PDLF), which are present around natural teeth but not around dental implants, actively regulate inflammatory responses to bacterial stimulation. We show that human PDLF down-regulate TNF-α post-transcriptionally in macrophages stimulated with the oral pathogen Porphyromonas gingivalis. Cell contact and secretion of IL-6 and IL-10 contribute to the modulation of inflammatory cytokine production. Although fibroblasts decreased TNF-α secretion, they enhanced the ability of macrophages to phagocytose bacteria. Surprisingly, donor matched oral fibroblasts from gingival tissues, or fibroblasts from peri-implant inflamed tissues were at least as active as PDLF in regulating macrophage responses to bacteria. In addition, priming fibroblasts with inflammatory mediators enhanced PDLF regulatory activity. A further understanding of the spectrum of fibroblast activities in inflammatory lesions is important in order to design ways to control inflammatory tissue damage.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number11516
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2017

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© 2017 The Author(s).


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