The antimicrobial peptides human β-defensins (hBDs) are encoded by β-defensin genes (DEFBs) and are possibly involved in caries susceptibility. In this study we aimed (1) to investigate the relationship between salivary hBDs and caries and (2) to evaluate the association of genetic polymorphisms in DEFB1 and microRNA202 (miRNA202) with salivary levels of hBDs and caries experience. Two data sets were available for this study, totalizing 678 Brazilian children. Dental examination and saliva collection were performed in all included children. The salivary level for hDB1, hBD2, and hBD4 was assessed by ELISA sandwich technique in 168 children. The DNA was extracted from saliva, and polymorphisms in DEFB1 and miRNA202 were analyzed by real-time PCR. Statistical analysis was performed to investigate the associations between caries experience, hBD salivary level, genotype, and allele distribution, with an alpha of 0.05. The hBD1 level was significantly higher in caries-free children (p < 0.0001). The miRNA202 was associated with a lower level of salivary hBD1 (p < 0.05). Also, the polymorphic distribution of miRNA202 was associated with caries (p = 0.006). The polymorphisms in DEFB1 were not associated with hBD salivary level and caries experience (p > 0.05). In conclusion, our results indicate that genetic polymorphism in miRNA202 is involved in hBD1 salivary level as well as caries experience in children.

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