Protease-activated receptors (PARs) are G-protein-coupled receptors that are activated enzymatically by proteolysis of an N-terminal domain. The cleavage and activation of PARs by serine proteases represent a novel mechanism by which such enzymes could influence the host inflammatory response. The aim of this study was to determine whether PAR-2 expression and activation were increased in dental caries. Using immunohistochemistry, we showed PAR-2 to be localized to pulp cells subjacent to caries lesions, but minimally expressed by healthy pulp tissue. Trypsin and the PAR-2 agonist (PAR2-AP) activated PAR-2 in an in vitro functional assay. Endogenous molecules present in pulp cell lysates from carious teeth specifically activated PAR-2, but those from healthy teeth failed to do so. The activation of PAR-2 in vitro was shown to increase the expression of the pro-inflammatory mediator cyclo-oxygenase-2 (COX-2), providing a mechanism whereby PAR-2 could modulate pulpal inflammation.
- dental pulp
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