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Modification of gingival proteoglycans by reactive oxygen species: potential mechanism of proteoglycan degradation during periodontal diseases

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posted on 25.11.2021, 10:20 by Ryan Moseley, Rachel J. Waddington

Reactive oxygen species (ROS) overproduction and oxidative stress are increasingly being implicated in the extracellular matrix (ECM) degradation associated with chronic inflammatory conditions, such as periodontal diseases. The present study investigated the effects of ROS exposure on the proteoglycans of gingival tissues, utilizing an in vitro model system comprised of supra-physiological oxidant concentrations, to ascertain whether gingival proteoglycan modification and degradation by ROS contributed to the underlying mechanisms of ECM destruction during active gingivitis. Proteoglycans were purified from ovine gingival tissues and exposed to increasing H2O2 concentrations or a hydroxyl radical (·OH) flux for 1 h or 24 h, and ROS effects on proteoglycan core proteins and sulfated glycosaminoglycan (GAG) chains were assessed. ROS were capable of degrading gingival proteoglycans, with ·OH species inducing greater degradative effects than H2O2 alone. Degradative effects were particularly manifested as amino acid modification, core protein cleavage, and GAG chain depolymerization. Proteoglycan core proteins were more susceptible to degradation than GAG chains with H2O2 alone, although core proteins and GAG chains were both extensively degraded by ·OH species. Proteoglycan exposure to ·OH species for 24 h induced significant core protein amino acid modification, with decreases in glutamate, proline, isoleucine, and leucine; and concomitant increases in serine, glycine, and alanine residues. As clinical reports have previously highlighted proteoglycan core protein degradation during chronic gingivitis, whereas their sulfated GAG chains remain relatively intact, these findings potentially provide further evidence to implicate ROS in the pathogenesis of active gingivitis, complementing the enzymic mechanisms of periodontal tissue destruction already established.


This work was supported by the Medical Research Council (MRC), UK, under Grant [G78/1356].