Osteotropic cytokines : expression in human gingival fibroblasts and effects on bone

Abstract: Bone metabolism is regulated by endocrine and paracrine signalling molecules influencing bone cells in the continuously remodelling bone tissue. These molecules include a variety of osteotropic stimulatory and inhibitory cytokines. Degradation of alveolar bone in periodontal disease is believed to be a result of local release of such osteotropic cytokines, although the relative importance of particular cytokines and their cellular origin is currently unknown. The aim of the present project was to study if, and how, pro-inflammatory cytokines in the interleukin-6 (IL-6) family of cytokines, and anti-inflammatory IL-4 and IL-13 type of cytokines, can affect osteoclast differentiation and bone resorption. Additionally, the objective was to study if gingival fibroblasts may influence alveolar bone resorption through secretion of IL-6 type cytokine release and if the secretion is regulated by pro-inflammatory as well as anti-inflammatory mediators such as IL-4 and IL-13. IL-6 in combination with its soluble receptor (sIL-6R) was found to stimulate mouse calvarial bone resorption. Similarly, two other IL-6 family members, leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF) and oncostatin M (OSM) were found to stimulate bone resorption. The stimulatory effect on bone resorption induced by the three cytokines was associated with increased expression of receptor activator of NF- κB ligand (RANKL), a cytokine which is essential in osteoclast formation and activation through binding to receptor activator of NF- κB (RANK) on osteoclastic cells. The interaction between RANKL and RANK can be inhibited by binding of the decoy receptor osteoprotegerin (OPG) to RANKL, and the expression of OPG was also regulated by IL-6, LIF and OSM (Paper I). The two related cytokines IL-4 and IL-13 were found to inhibit osteoclastogenesis and mouse calvarial bone resorption by mechanisms involving a decreased RANKL/OPG ratio in osteoblasts and decreased RANK expression in osteoclastic cells. The results further demonstrated that IL-4 and IL-13 exert their effects on both osteoblasts and osteoclasts by a mechanism involving the transcription factor signal transducer and activator of transcription 6 (STAT6) (Paper II). Constitutional expression of IL-6, LIF and another member of the IL-6 family of cytokines, IL-11, was demonstrated in human gingival fibroblasts. IL-6 type cytokine expression levels were found to be enhanced by IL-1β and tumour necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) (Paper III), whereas IL-4 and IL-13 inhibited IL 11 and LIF release from gingival fibroblasts (Paper IV). In conclusion, IL 6 type cytokines were found to be stimulators and IL-4 and IL-13 inhibitors of bone resorption in vitro via mechanisms involving RANK/RANKL/OPG interactions. Additionally, gingival fibroblasts were able to secrete several cytokines in the IL-6 family. Secretion was further enhanced by pro-inflammatory mediators and inhibited by IL-4 and IL- 13. These findings support the view that resident cells may influence the pathogenesis of periodontal disease through osteotropic cytokine production.