Cleft lip and palate are amongst the most common congenital malformations worldwide presenting with variable manifestations. Previous research has been primarily focused on the genetical aspects of its complex and multifactorial etiology. In the present study, we investigated the role of cytokines as mediators of epithelial–mesenchymal crosstalk and local site inflammation in cleft affected infants. Lip material was obtained from 12 children aged before primary dentition who suffered from orofacial clefting. The quantification of 12 cytokines (Interleukin-2,4,5,6,10,12,13,17A, Tumor Necrosis Factor-α, Interferon-γ, Transforming Growth Factor beta-1 and Granulocyte-Colony Stimulating Factor) was done using ELISA. Nonparametric Spearman Rho was used to ascertain the correlation between the expression levels of different cytokines. A significantly strong positive correlation was found between IL-2 and IFN-γ coupled with an IL4/IFN-γ ratio favoring IFN-γ. These findings indicate a shift towards the preferential activation of the Th1 differentiation pathway. Further, a pathological reduction in TGFβ-1 levels was noted, which may contribute to mucosal damage. IL-6 was more highly correlated to IFN-γ and IL-12 indicating its potential proinflammatory role in cleft affected tissues. This preferential activation of Th1 cell differentiation and consistent expression of IL-2,6,13 and TNF-α in cleft patients may indicate certain underlying mechanisms for inflammation mediation at the site of clefting.
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