Effect of the Antimicrobial Peptide LL-37 on Gene Expression of Chemokines and 29 Toll-like Receptor-Associated Proteins in Human Gingival Fibroblasts Under Stimulation with Porphyromonas gingivalis Lipopolysaccharide

  • Megumi InomataEmail author
  • Toshi Horie
  • Takeshi IntoEmail author


The antimicrobial peptide LL-37 neutralizes the biological activity of lipopolysaccharide (LPS), while it upregulates the expression of several immune-related genes. We investigated the effect of LL-37 on gene regulation of human gingival fibroblasts (HGFs), stimulated with or without Porphyromonas gingivalis-derived LPS, a ligand for Toll-like receptor (TLR). LL-37 was non-toxic to HGFs up to a concentration of 10 μg/ml. P. gingivalis LPS upregulated the expression of IL8, CXCL10, and CCL2, whereas LL-37 reduced this upregulation. In absence of LPS, LL-37 itself upregulated the expression of IL8 and CCL2. LL-37 increased the expression of P2X7, which was constitutively expressed in HGFs. The P2X7 antagonist A-438079 suppressed the cytotoxicity and upregulatory effect of LL-37 on chemokine response, but not its downregulatory effect on P. gingivalis LPS–induced chemokine response. Whether LL-37 alters the expression of 29 genes that encode TLR-associated proteins, including TLRs, co-receptors, signaling molecules, and negative regulators, in HGFs, under stimulation with LPS, was examined. Among TLRs, P. gingivalis LPS upregulated the level of TLR4, whereas LL-37 reduced it. In co-receptors, LL-37 downregulated the level of CD14. Among signaling molecules, LL-37 augmented the LPS-upregulated expression of IRAK1. Similar effects were observed in the specific negative regulators TNFAIP3, RNF216, TOLLIP, and SIGIRR. Our results suggest that LL-37 exerts cytotoxicity and upregulation of chemokine response via the P2X7 receptor, while it induces downregulation of P. gingivalis LPS–induced chemokine response through alteration in the expression of 7 specific TLR-associated genes: downregulation of TLR4 and CD14 and upregulation of IRAK1, TNFAIP3, RNF216, TOLLIP, and SIGIRR.

Key words

LL-37 Human gingival fibroblasts Toll-like receptor Porphyromonas gingivalis lipopolysaccharide 



The manuscript was reviewed by Editage ( for English language editing.

Funding Information

This work was supported by Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (KAKENHI) from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) to M.I. (18K09544) and T.I. (18 K09561). Funding sources had no role in the study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, and preparation of the manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Oral Microbiology, Division of Oral Infections and Health SciencesAsahi University School of DentistryMizuhoJapan

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