Substrate stiffness controls proinflammatory responses in human gingival fibroblasts

Watcharaphol Tiskratok, Masahiro Yamada, Jun Watanabe, Nadia Kartikasari, Tsuyoshi Kimura, Hiroshi Egusa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Soft gingiva is often compromised in gingival health; however, the underlying biological mechanisms remain unknown. Extracellular matrix (ECM) stiffness is involved in the progression of various fibroblast-related inflammatory disorders via cellular mechanotransduction. Gingival stiffness might regulate cellular mechanotransduction-mediated proinflammatory responses in gingival fibroblasts. This in vitro study aims to investigate the effects of substrate stiffness on proinflammatory responses in human gingival fibroblasts (hGFs). The hGFs isolated from two healthy donors cultured on type I collagen-coated polydimethylsiloxane substrates with different stiffnesses, representing soft (5 kPa) or hard (25 kPa) gingiva. Expression levels of proinflammatory mediators, prostaglandin E2 or interleukin-1β, in hGFs were significantly higher with the soft substrate than with the hard substrate, even without and with lipopolysaccharide (LPS) to induce inflammation. Expression levels of gingival ECM and collagen cross-linking agents in hGFs were downregulated more with the soft substrate than with the hard substrate through 14 days of culture. The soft substrate suppressed the expression of mechanotransduction-related transcriptional factors and activated the expression of inflammation-related factors, whereas the hard substrate demonstrated the opposite effects. Soft substrate induced proinflammatory responses and inhibition of ECM synthesis in hGFs by inactivating cellular mechanotransduction. This supports the importance of ECM stiffness in gingival health.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1358
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2023 Dec


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