The purpose of this study was to evaluate the tissue levels of matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-1, -2, -3 and their distributions in inflamed human dental pulps and periapical lesions. Samples were subjected to enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and/or immunohistochemistry by using specific antibodies to MMP-1, -2, and -3. Results from enzyme- linked immunosorbent assay were analyzed by using the Mann-Whitney U test and presented as p values. The concentrations of MMP-1 in all experimental groups were significantly higher than in the control (p < 0.05). The acute pulpitis and control groups were significant different in terms of their MMP-2 levels (p < 0.05). The concentration of MMP-3 in acute pulpitis was significantly higher than the control and chronic pulpitis groups (p < 0.05). Immunohistochemically, MMP-1 and MMP-3 were localized in the infiltrating neutrophils, macrophages, and extracellular matrix of the acute pulpitis group. These results suggest that MMPs play an important role in the pulp tissue destruction of acute, inflamed pulp.
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