Chlorhexidine inhibits the activity of dental cysteine cathepsins

P. M.C. Scaffa, C. M.P. Vidal, N. Barros, T. F. Gesteira, A. K. Carmona, L. Breschi, D. H. Pashley, L. Tjäderhane, I. L.S. Tersariol, F. D. Nascimento, M. R. Carrilho

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

169 Scopus citations


The co-expression of MMPs and cysteine cathepsins in the human dentin-pulp complex indicates that both classes of enzymes can contribute to the endogenous proteolytic activity of dentin. Chlorhexidine (CHX) is an efficient inhibitor of MMP activity. This study investigated whether CHX could also inhibit cysteine cathepsins present in dentin. The inhibitory profile of CHX on the activity of dentin-extracted and recombinant cysteine cathepsins (B, K, and L) was monitored in fluorogenic substrates. The rate of substrate hydrolysis was spectrofluorimetrically measured, and inhibitory constants were calculated. Molecular docking was performed to predict the binding affinity between CHX and cysteine cathepsins. The results showed that CHX inhibited the proteolytic activity of dentin-extracted cysteine cathepsins in a dose-dependent manner. The proteolytic activity of human recombinant cathepsins was also inhibited by CHX. Molecular docking analysis suggested that CHX strongly interacts with the subsites S2 to S2′ of cysteine cathepsins B, K, and L in a very similar manner. Taken together, these results clearly showed that CHX is a potent inhibitor of the cysteine cathepsins-proteolytic enzymes present in the dentin-pulp complex.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)420-425
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Dental Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2012


  • chlorhexidine
  • collagen
  • cysteine cathepsins
  • degradation
  • dentin
  • proteolytic activity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dentistry(all)


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