Orthodontic tooth movement progresses by a combination of periodontal ligament (PDL) tissue and alveolar bone remodeling processes. Besides the remodeling of alveolar bone around the moving teeth, the major extracellular matrix (ECM) components of PDLs, collagens, are degenerated, degraded, and restructured. Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) and their specific inhibitors, tissue inhibitors of metalloproteinases (TIMPs), act in a co-ordinated fashion to regulate the remodeling of periodontal tissues. We hypothesized that the expression levels of the genes for MMP-2, MMP-9, and TIMPs 1-3 are increased transiently in the periodontal tissue during orthodontic tooth movement. To test this hypothesis, we employed an animal model of tooth movement using rats, as well as in situ hybridization to analyze the expression levels of Mmp-2, Mmp-9, and Timps 1-3. The expression levels of these genes increased transiently in cells of periodontal tissues, which include cementoblasts, fibroblasts, osteoblasts, and osteoclasts, at the compression side of the moving teeth. The transient increases in gene expression at the tension side were mainly limited to osteoblasts and cementoblasts. In conclusion, the expression levels of Mmp-2, Mmp-9, and Timps 1-3 increase transiently during orthodontic tooth movement at both the tension and compression sides. The expression of these genes is regulated differentially in the periodontal tissue of the tension side and compression side. This altered pattern of gene expression may determine the rate and extent of remodeling of the collagenous ECM in periodontal tissues during orthodontic tooth movement.
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