Rat model of polymicrobial infection, immunity, and alveolar bone resorption in periodontal disease

Lakshmyya Kesavalu, Sabapathi Sathishkumar, Vasudevan Bakthavatchalu, Chad Matthews, Dolph Dawson, Michelle Steffen, Jeffrey L. Ebersole

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    201 Scopus citations


    One of the predominant polymicrobial infections of humans is expressed clinically as periodontal disease. Porphyromonas gingivalis, Treponema denticola, and Tannerella forsythia have been strongly implicated as members of a pathogenic consortium in the etiology of adult periodontitis. In this study we hypothesized that P. gingivalis, T. denticola, and T. forsythia are synergistic in terms of virulence potential and induce chronic periodontal inflammation that leads to alveolar bone resorption in a polymicrobial infection in rats. Groups of rats were infected with either P. gingivalis, T. denticola, or T. forsythia in monomicrobial infections or with all three species in polymicrobial oral infections with or without Fusobacterium nucleatum. PCR analyses of oral microbial samples demonstrated that rats infected with one bacterium were orally colonized by each of the bacteria during the study interval, and increased serum immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibody levels substantiated the interaction of the host with the infecting bacteria. PCR analyses of the rats with polymicrobial infections demonstrated that most rats were infected with P. gingivalis, T. denticola, and T. forsythia as a consortium. Furthermore, all rats exhibited a significant increase in the level of IgG antibody to the polymicrobial consortium. Radiographic measurement of alveolar bone resorption showed that rats infected with the polymicrobial consortium with or without F. nucleatum exhibited significantly increased alveolar bone resorption compared to the resorption in uninfected control rats, as well as the resorption in rats infected with one of the microbes. These results documented that P. gingivalis, T. denticola, and T. forsythia not only exist as a consortium that is associated with chronic periodontitis but also exhibit synergistic virulence resulting in the immunoinflammatory bone resorption characteristic of periodontitis.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1704-1712
    Number of pages9
    JournalInfection and Immunity
    Issue number4
    StatePublished - Apr 2007

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Parasitology
    • Microbiology
    • Immunology
    • Infectious Diseases


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