Concentrations of the protease inhibitors α1-antitrypsin and α2-macroglobulin were determined in normal and inflamed human dental pulps. Carious pulpal exposure which is associated with polymorphonuclear leukocyte infiltration and release of lysosomal enzymes was chosen as the point of verifiable inflammatory activity in the pulp. Normal samples were collected from nondiseased third molar teeth treatment planned for extraction and inflamed human pulps were collected from teeth with deep carious lesions. One half of each sample was assayed for concentration of protease inhibitors by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and the remaining half was examined histologically to verify the clinical diagnosis and categorize the extent of the inflammatory process. α1-Antitrypsin and α2-macroglobulin were detected in normal and inflamed human dental pulps in the nanogram per milliliter range. Statistically significant differences were found in the concentrations of α2-macroglobulin (p<0.01) in moderate to severe inflammation versus normal pulp categories and between mildly inflamed pulps and moderate to severely inflamed pulps (p<0.05). Although differences in concentrations of α1-antitrypsin were seen between inflamed and normal pulps, the differences were not satistically significant. The presence of these two protease inhibitors in the human dental pulp tissue and the increase in their concentration in acute inflammation indicates that these proteins play a role in the pathogenesis of pulpal inflammatory disease.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This project was supported in part by Naval Medical Research and Development Command Project MR0412002-0001.