Macrophages subpopulations in chronic periapical lesions according to clinical and morphological aspects

Abstract: The aim of this study was to evaluate macrophage M1 and M2 subpopulations in radicular cysts (RCs) and periapical granulomas (PGs) and relate them to clinical and morphological aspects. M1 macrophages were evaluated by the percentage of CD68 immunostaining associated with the inflammatory cytokine TNF-α, and M2 macrophages, by its specific CD163 antibody. The CD68+/CD163+ ratio was adopted to distinguish between the two macrophage subpopulations. Clinical, radiographic, symptomatology, treatment, and morphological parameters of lesions were collected and a significance level of p = 0.05 was adopted for statistical analysis. The results showed that the CD68+/CD163+ ratio was higher in the RCs (median = 1.22, p = 0.002), and the highest TNF-α immunostaining scores were found in RCs (p = 0.018); in PGs, the CD68+/CD163+ ratio was lower and associated with a greater CD163+ immunostaining (median = 1.02, p <0.001). The TNF-α in cyst epithelium had a score of 3 in 10 cases and predominance of M1 macrophages by CD68+/CD163+ (median = 2.23). In addition, CD68+ cells had higher percentage of immunostaining in smaller RCs (p = 0.034). Our findings suggest that increased CD68 immunostaining associated with TNF-α cytokine in RCs results in a greater differentiation of the M1 phenotype. The higher CD163 immunostaining in PGs results in greater differentiation of the M2 phenotype. Therefore, the inflammatory state promoted by M1 macrophages is related to growth and progression of RCs; on the other hand, the immunomodulatory state of M2 macrophages is related to maintenance of PGs.