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Small leucine-rich repeat proteoglycans (SLRP) are present in the extracellular matrix of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disc. Lumican and fibromodulin, classified as class 2 SLRPs, play important roles in TMJ assembly, proliferation and inflammation. Degenerative change in the TMJ disc gives rise to the process of internal derangement (ID). In this study, we immunohistochemically examined the expression of lumican and fibromodulin in nine human TMJ specimens and examined the gene expression of both proteoglycans in cultured human TMJ disc cells under interleukin-1 beta (IL-1 β)-stimulated conditions. An articular disc cell line was established by collagenase treatment of a TMJ disc. The subcultured cells were then incubated for 1, 3, 6, 12, 24 or 48 h under both normal and IL-1 β (1 ng/mL) conditions. The gene expression of lumican and fibromodulin was examined using the reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and real-time RT-PCR. We demonstrated that the expression of lumican significantly differs from that of fibromodulin in the deformed disc and that IL-1 β induces a significant increase in lumican mRNA, but not in fibromodulin mRNA, after 24~48 h culture compared to cells cultured in the absence of IL-1 β (P<0.05). These results indicate that lumican and fibromodulin display different behaviors and that lumican may promote regeneration of the TMJ after degeneration and deformation induced by IL-1 β.
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