Production of Soluble Receptor Activator of Nuclear Factor Kappa-Β Ligand and Osteoprotegerin by Apical Periodontitis Cells in Culture and Their Modulation by Cytokines

RANKL, a bone-destructive cytokine, and OPG, its osteoprotective counterpart, are expressed in periapical lesions (PLs), which represent hystopatological manifestations of apical periodontitis. However, their regulation in PLs has not been elucidated yet. Therefore, our aim was to study the production of RANKL and OPG and their modulation by pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines in PL cell cultures. Isolated PL cells were cultured alone or with addition of TNF-α, IFN-ϒ, IL-17, IL-4, IL-10, and IL- 33, respectively. The levels of RANKL and OPG in supernatants were measured by ELISA. The proportion of CD3+ (T cells) and CD19+/CD138+ (B cells/plasma cells) within isolated PLs was determined by immunocytochemistry. The levels of RANKL were higher in cultures of symptomatic PLs compared to asymptomatic PLs and PLs with the dominance of T cells (T-type lesions) over B cells/plasma cells (B-type lesions). A higher proportion of osteodestructive processes (RANKL/OPG ratio > 1.0) were detected in symptomatic PLs. The production of RANKL was upregulated by IFN-ϒ and IL-17 and higher concentrations of IL-33. IL-10 and lower concentrations of IL-33 augmented the production of OPG. The addition of either RANKL or anti-RANKL antibody to the cultures did not modify significantly the production of OPG. In conclusion, this original PL cell culture model suggests that increased bone destruction through upregulated production of RANKL could be associated with exacerbation of inflammation in PLs with the predominance of Th1 and Th17 responses and increased secretion of IL-33. In contrast, IL-10 and lower levels of IL-33, through upregulation of OPG, may suppress osteolytic processes.
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