• biofilm;
  • cytokines;
  • salivary epithelial cells;
  • TLR-2


The human skin not only provides passive protection as a physical barrier against external injury, but also mediates active surveillance via epidermal cell surface receptors that recognize and respond to potential invaders. Primary keratinocytes and immortalized cell lines, the commonly used sources to investigate immune responses of cutaneous epithelium are often difficult to obtain and/or potentially exhibit changes in cellular genetic make-up. Here we investigated the possibility of using salivary epithelial cells (SEC) to evaluate the host response to cutaneous microbes. Elevated secretion of IFN-γ and IL-12 was observed in the SEC stimulated with Staphylococcus aureus, a transient pathogen of the skin, as mono species biofilm as compared to SEC stimulated with a commensal microbe, the Staphylococcus epidermidis. Co-culture of the SEC with both microbes as dual species biofilm elicited maximum cytokine response. Stimulation with S. aureus alone but not with S. epidermidis alone induced maximum toll-like receptor-2 (TLR-2) expression in the SEC. Exposure to dual species biofilm induced a sustained upregulation of TLR-2 in the SEC for up to an hour. The data support novel application of the SEC as efficient biospecimen that may be used to investigate personalized response to cutaneous microflora.