Periodontal ligament (PDL) cell motility and the passage of PDL cells along a root surface are important components of tissue remodeling during periodontal regeneration. Proteolytic enzymes, including fibroblast collagenase, have been demonstrated to play an important role in tissue remodeling. Previous studies have shown that PDL cells chemotactically respond to a variety of matrix and growth factors. We therefore studied the effects of type I collagen fragments and fibroblast collagenase on PDL cell migration, since PDL cells have been shown to adhere preferentially to partially demineralized root surfaces with exposed type I collagen. Gingival epithelial cells were used as a control cell population. We report that PDL cells but not gingival epithelial cells preferentially migrate in a dose-dependent manner to both fibroblast collagenase and to type I collagen degradation products. Epithelial cell migration to fibroblast collagenase and type I collagen fragments was observed. Antibody to type I collagen inhibited the type I collagen fragment-mediated migration. Collagenase pre-treatment of PDL cells enhanced PDL cell migration to type I collagen fragments. In other assays, enzyme inhibitors were shown to decrease the collagenase-mediated PDL cell motility. Epithelial cells were shown to migrate preferentially to 92-kDa type IV collagenase and type IV collagen degradation products. Antibody to type IV collagen inhibited type IV collagen-induced epithelial cell migration. Taken together, these data suggest a role for collagenase in the fine control of PDL cell migration in tissue remodeling during periodontal regeneration.
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