Effects of aging on apoptosis gene expression in oral mucosal tissues

Octavio A. Gonzalez, M. John Novak, Sreenatha Kirakodu, Arnold J. Stromberg, Shu Shen, Luis Orraca, Janis Gonzalez-Martinez, Jeffrey L. Ebersole

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Apoptotic processes are important for physiologic renewal of an intact epithelial barrier and contribute some antimicrobial resistance for bacteria and viruses, as well as anti-inflammatory effects that benefits the mucosa. The oral cavity presents a model of host-bacterial interactions at mucosal surfaces, in which a panoply of microorganisms colonizes various niches in the oral cavity and creates complex multispecies biofilms that challenge the gingival tissues. This report details gene expression in apoptotic pathways that occur in oral mucosal tissues across the lifespan, using a nonhuman primate model. Macaca mulatta primates from 2 to 23 years of age (n = 23) were used in a cross-sectional study to obtain clinical healthy gingival tissues specimens. Further, mRNA was prepared and evaluated using the Affymetrix Rhesus GeneChip and 88 apoptotic pathway genes were evaluated. The results identified significant positive correlations with age in 12 genes and negative correlations with an additional five genes. The gene effects were predicted to alter apoptosis receptor levels, extrinsic apoptotic pathways through caspases, cytokine effects on apoptotic events, Ca+2-induced death signaling, cell cycle checkpoints, and potential effects of survival factors. Both the positively and negatively correlated genes within the apoptotic pathways provided evidence that healthy tissues in aging animals exhibit decreased apoptotic potential compared to younger animals. The results suggested that decreased physiologic apoptotic process in the dynamic septic environment of the oral mucosal tissues could increase the risk of aging tissues to undergo destructive disease processes through dysregulated inflammatory responses to the oral microbial burden.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)249-259
Number of pages11
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgments This work was supported by National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) grant 8P20GM103538-09. We express our gratitude to the Caribbean Primate Research Center (CPRC) for its invaluable technical support.


  • Aging
  • Apoptosis
  • Infection
  • Inflammation
  • Oral mucosa

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology
  • Biochemistry, medical
  • Cancer Research


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