Central giant cell lesion (CGCL) and peripheral giant cell lesion (PGCL) of the jaws are characterized by multinucleated osteoclast-like giant cells in a background of mononuclear cells. While mononuclear cells retain proliferative activity in both lesions, giant cells are Ki-67 negative. This observation raised the theory that giant cells are formed by cytoplasmic fusion of mononuclear cells, and also that these lesions are of reactive nature. As the giant cells are not proliferating in CGCL and PGCL, apoptosis of such cells should be investigated. We investigated the transcription of BAX and BCL-2 mRNAs in six fresh samples of CGCL and six fresh samples of PGCL by qRT-PCR (quantitative reverse transcription PCR) and used immunohistochemistry to demonstrate the localization of these proteins, as well as caspase 3 active in six paraffin-embedded samples of CGCL and nine paraffin-embedded samples of PGCL. While both groups showed increased expression of BAX and BCL-2 mRNA, PGCL showed a higher apoptotic index (ratio BAX/BCL-2) than CGCL. The three proteins investigated were expressed almost exclusively in the cytoplasm of giant cells. To further confirm apoptotic activity, we performed TUNEL analysis in the same samples of the immunohistochemistry and found a higher positivity in the giant cells of PGCL compared to the giant cells of CGCL. Our results show increased expression of apoptotic-related genes in both PGCL and CGCL and that the giant cells are probably the main source of these events. Also, it raises a hypothesis that differences in the apoptotic activity might be associated with the different clinical behavior of CGCL and PGCL.
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This study was supported in part by grants from Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de Minas Gerais (FAPEMIG) and by Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq), Brazil. Dr. Bernardes VF and RS Gomez are research fellows of CNPq.
Conflicts of interest
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