BACKGROUND: To clarify the roles of osteoclast regulatory factors in progression of odontogenic tumors, expression of parathyroid hormone-related protein (PTHrP), osteoclast differentiation factor (ODF)/receptor activator of nuclear factor-κB ligand (RANKL), and osteoclastogenesis inhibitory factor (OCIF)/osteoprotegerin (OPG) were analyzed in ameloblastomas as well as tooth germs. METHODS: Tissue specimens of nine tooth germs and 36 benign and one malignant ameloblastomas were examined by reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and immunohistochemistry for the expression of PTHrP, ODF/RANKL, and OCIF/OPG. RESULTS: Expression of PTHrP, ODF/RANKL, and OCIF/OPG mRNA was detected in all tooth germ and ameloblastoma samples. Immunohistochemical reactivity for PTHrP was recognized in both normal and neoplastic odontogenic epithelial cells. In ameloblastomas, PTHrP reactivity in peripheral columnar or cuboidal cells was stronger than that in central polyhedral cells, and keratinizing cells showed increased PTHrP reactivity. ODF/RANKL and OCIF/OPG were expressed predominantly in mesenchymal cells rather than in odontogenic epithelial cells in both tooth germs and ameloblastomas. Epithelial ODF/RANKL and OCIF/OPG expression was slightly lower in ameloblastomas than in tooth germs. Tumor cells in plexiform ameloblastomas showed slightly higher reactivity for PTHrP and ODF/RANKL than tumor cells in follicular ameloblastomas. CONCLUSION: Expression of PTHrP, ODF/RANKL and OCIF/OPG in tooth germs and ameloblastomas suggests that these factors might locally regulate bone metabolism and dynamics in tooth development as well as in progression of ameloblastomas. These factors might also be involved in tumor cell differentiation and/or tumor tissue structuring in ameloblastomas.
- Osteoclast differentiation factor (ODF)/receptor activator of nuclear factor-κB ligand (RANKL)
- Osteoclastogenesis inhibitory factor (OCIF)/osteoprotegerin (OPG)
- Parathyroid hormone-related protein (PTHrP)