Inside Dentistry
February 2010
Volume 6, Issue 2

Histatins enhance wound closure with oral and non-oral cells.

Oudhoff MJ, van den Keijbus PA, Kroeze KL, et al. J Dent Res. 2009;88:846-850.

Howard E. Strassler, DMD


The role of human saliva in oral wound-healing has never been fully elucidated. We previously demonstrated that parotid-salivary histatins enhance in vitro wound closure. The question remains whether other salivary-gland secretions enhance wound closure, and also the effects of histatins on primary and non-oral cells. Since the presence of histatins is not limited to parotid saliva, we expected to observe wound-closure activity of other salivary-gland secretions. However, here we show that non-parotid saliva does not stimulate wound closure, most probably due to the presence of mucins, since the addition of MUC5B to parotid saliva abolished its effect. Furthermore, we found that histatins stimulated wound closure of (primary) cells of both oral and non-oral origin. This suggests that the cellular receptor of histatins is widely expressed and not confined to cells derived from the oral cavity. These findings encourage the future therapeutic application of histatins in the treatment of all kinds of wounds.


When a traumatic injury that cuts the soft tissues in the oral cavity occurs, the patient and clinician can have concerns about the duration of healing that may occur. During dental surgical procedures, incisions are purposely made to perform the operation. Some oral lesions, eg, recurrent aphthous ulcers and herpes lesions, have a course of infection and then healing. In all of these cases, as clinicians we have concerns on the course and duration of healing that may be delayed due to the presence of normal and pathogenic oral bacteria. It is not uncommon to tell a patient that oral wounds will take 10 to 14 days to heal. When one compares oral wounds to cuts and scrapes to the skin that can be disinfected and bandaged, the healing in the mouth is one of nature's miracles in a sea of bacteria and saliva. The area of oral wound healing has been investigated. Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) has been used extensively to promote soft and hard tissue healing. The significance behind its use refers to the abundance of growth factors present in a well-prepared PRP concentrate. These growth factors enhance the rate and quality of wound healing by different biologic mechanisms on a molecular basis.1-3 While it is known that saliva provides some oral protection to infections, this research study provides insight into the role of human saliva in oral wound-healing. This research may lead to a better understanding of enhanced healing with histatins of oral and non-oral wounds. This basic research can lead to breakthroughs and development of pharmacologic treatments that contain histatin or analogues that can provide significant advances for intraoral and extraoral wound healing.


1. Arora NS, Ramanavake T, Ren YF, Romanos GE. Platelet-rich plasma: a literature review. Implant Dent. 2009;18:303-310.

2. Powell CA, Bannister SR, Mackey SA, et al. Periodontal wound healing with and without platelet-rich plasma: histological observations and assessment of flap tensile strength. J Periodontol. 2009;80:985-992.

3. Nikolidakis D, Jansen JA. The biology of platelet-rich plasma and its application to oral surgery: literature review. Tissue Eng Part B Rev. 2008;14:249-258.

About the Author

Howard E. Strassler, DMD
Professor and Director of Operative Dentistry
Department of Endodontics, Prosthodontics and Operative Dentistry
University of Maryland Dental School
Baltimore, Maryland

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