In periodontal disease (PD), bacterial biofilms cause gingival inflammation, leading to bone loss. In healthy individuals, αvβ6 integrin in junctional epithelium maintains anti-inflammatory transforming growth factor-β1 (TGF-β1) signaling, whereas its expression is lost in individuals with PD. Bacterial biofilms suppress β6 integrin expression in cultured gingival epithelial cells (GECs) by attenuating TGF-β1 signaling, leading to an enhanced pro-inflammatory response. In the present study, we show that GEC exposure to biofilms induced activation of mitogen-activated protein kinases and epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR). Inhibition of EGFR and ERK stunted both the biofilm-induced ITGB6 suppression and IL1B stimulation. Furthermore, biofilm induced the expression of endogenous EGFR ligands that suppressed ITGB6 and stimulated IL1B expression, indicating that the effects of the biofilm were mediated by autocrine EGFR signaling. Biofilm and EGFR ligands induced inhibitory phosphorylation of the TGF-β1 signaling mediator Smad3 at S208. Overexpression of a phosphorylation-defective mutant of Smad3 (S208A) reduced the β6 integrin suppression. Furthermore, inhibition of EGFR signaling significantly reduced bone loss and inflammation in an experimental PD model. Thus, EGFR inhibition may provide a target for clinical therapies to prevent inflammation and bone loss in PD.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cell Biology
- Epidermal growth factor receptor
- Periodontal disease
- αvβ6 integrin