Epithelial cells and dendritic cells (DCs) both initiate and contribute to innate immune responses to bacteria. However, much less is known about the coordinated regulation of innate immune responses between GECs and immune cells, particularly DCs in the oral cavity. The present study was conducted to investigate whether their responses are coordinated and are bacteria-specific in the oral cavity.
The β-defensin antimicrobial peptides hBD1, hBD2 and hBD3 were expressed by immature DCs as well as gingival epithelial cells (GECs). HBD1, hBD2 and hBD3 are upregulated in DCs while hBD2 and hBD3 are upregulated in GECs in response to bacterial stimulation. Responses of both cell types were bacteria-specific, as demonstrated by distinctive profiles of hBDs mRNA expression and secreted cytokines and chemokines in response to cell wall preparations of various bacteria of different pathogenicity: Fusobacterium nucleatum, Actinomyces naeslundii and Porphyromonas gingivalis. The regulation of expression of hBD2, IL-8, CXCL2/GROβ and CCL-20/MIP3α by GECs was greatly enhanced by conditioned medium from bacterially activated DCs. This enhancement was primarily mediated via IL-1β, since induction was largely attenuated by IL-1 receptor antagonist. In addition, the defensins influence DCs by eliciting differential cytokine and chemokine secretion. HBD2 significantly induced IL-6, while hBD3 induced MCP-1 to approximately the same extent as LPS, suggesting a unique role in immune responses.
The results suggest that cytokines, chemokines and β-defensins are involved in interaction of these two cell types, and the responses are bacteria-specific. Differential and coordinated regulation between GECs and DCs may be important in regulation of innate immune homeostasis and response to pathogens in the oral cavity.