Short chain carboxylic acids decrease human gingival keratinocyte proliferation and increase apoptosis and necrosis

Barbara C. Sorkin, Richard Niederman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Epithelia are key barriers to infections. In periodontal disease, the gingival sulcular epithelium becomes ulcerated. In this report, we test the hypothesis that short-chain carboxylic acids (SCCA) inhibit keratinocyte proliferation, increase necrosis and apoptosis, and may thus promote ulceration. SCCA produced by bacteria are present at millimolar concentrations in the periodontal pockets of subjects with periodontal disease. SCCA concentrations are higher in subjects with severe disease than in those with mild disease, and are not detectable in healthy subjects. Cell proliferation is critical for maintenance of epithelial barrier function. All SCCA tested, when neutralized, decreased epithelial cell proliferation (as measured by 3H-thymidine incorporation) in a dose-dependent manner. We found that epithelial cell viability decreased with increasing SCCA concentrations, accounting at least partly for the decreased 3H-thymidine incorporation. For all conditions we tested, SCCA-induced apoptosis preceded and exceeded necrosis. While the molecular mechanism(s) for these effects remain to be determined, the results indicate that SCCA derived from caries- or periodontal disease-associated bacteria could alter gingival barrier function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)311-315
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Clinical Periodontology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1998



  • Epithelium
  • Growth regulation
  • Keratinocytes
  • Short chain carboxylic acids

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dentistry(all)

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