Betel quid (BQ) chewing is an oral habit that increases the risk of oral cancer and oral submucous fibrosis (OSF), a precancerous condition showing epithelial atrophy and tissue fibrosis. Persistent fibroblast contraction may induce the fibrotic contracture of tissue. In this study, we found that areca nut extract (ANE) (200-1200 μg/ ml) stimulated buccal mucosa fibroblast (OMF)-populated collagen gel contraction. Arecoline but not arecaidine-two areca alkaloids, slightly induced the OMF contraction. Exogenous addition of carboxylesterase (2 U/ml) prevented the arecoline- but not ANEinduced OMF contraction. OMF expressed inositol triphosphate (IP3) receptors. ANE-induced OMF (800 μg/ml) contraction was inhibited by U73122 [phospholipase C (PLC) inhibitor] and 2-aminoethoxydiphenyl borate (IP3 receptor antagonist), respectively. Ethylene glycol tetraacetic acid and verapamil, two calcium mobilization modulators, also suppressed the ANE-induced OMF contraction. ANE induced calcium/calmodulin kinase II and myosin light chain (MLC) phosphorylation in OMF. Moreover, W7 (a Ca2+/ calmodulin inhibitor), HA1077 (Rho kinase inhibitor), ML-7 (MLC kinase inhibitor) and cytochalasin B (actin filament polymerization inhibitor) inhibited the ANE-induced OMF contraction. Although ANE elevated reactive oxygen species (ROS) level in OMF, catalase, superoxide dismutase and N-acetyl-l-cysteine showed no obvious effect on ANE-elicited OMF contraction. These results indicate that BQ chewing may affect the wound healing and fibrotic processes in OSF via inducing OMF contraction by ANE and areca alkaloids. AN components-induced OMF contraction was related to PLC/ IP3/Ca2+/calmodulin and Rho signaling pathway as well as actin filament polymerization, but not solely due to ROS production.
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