Various in vitro studies have shown induction of apoptosis by monomers incorporated to dental restorative materials and adhesive resins, while information regarding the effect of monomer combinations as commercially available products on apopotis is limited. The aim of this study was to investigate the effetcs of two multi-step self-etch primer/adhesive systems on apoptosis of cultured primary human gingival fibroblasts. Cells were treated up to 48 h with Clearfil SE Bond (Kuraray, Japan) and FL Bond (Shofu, Japan) at 1:1000 v:v ratio to determine cell proliferation, using 0.02 mM staurosporine as positive control. Apoptosis was assessed using propidium iodide/acridine orange (PI/AO) staining, compared to nontreated controls. When compared to FL Bond, exposure of gingival fibroblasts to Clearfil SE Primer and Clearfil SE Bond resulted in a higher degree of cell proliferation. PI/AO staining revealed typical morphological features of apoptosis in FL Bond and Staurosporine groups, while some cells cultured in the presence of primer and adhesive components of Clearfil SE Bond showed nuclear fragmentation, indicative of early apoptosis. Our results indicate that apoptotic potential of the multi-step self-etch adhesives were material-dependent within the 48 h test period. (c) 2006 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.