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Pathol Biol (Paris). 2007 Apr-May;55(3-4):154-62. Epub 2006 Oct 17.

[Pathogenic potential of Porphyromonas gingivalis, Treponema denticola and Tannerella forsythia, the red bacterial complex associated with periodontitis].

[Article in French]

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  • 1Groupe de recherche en écologie buccale, faculté de médecine dentaire, université Laval, G1K 7P4 Québec, Québec, Canada.


Periodontitis are mixed bacterial infections leading to destruction of tooth-supporting tissues, including periodontal ligament and alveolar bone. Among over 500 bacterial species living in the oral cavity, a bacterial complex named "red complex" and made of Porphyromonas gingivalis, Treponema denticola and Tannerella forsythia has been strongly related to advanced periodontal lesions. While periodontopathogenic bacteria are the primary etiologic factor of periodontitis, tissue destruction essentially results from the host immune response to the bacterial challenge. Members of the red complex are Gram negative anaerobic bacteria expressing numerous virulence factors allowing bacteria to colonize the subgingival sites, to disturb the host defense system, to invade and destroy periodontal tissue as well as to promote the immunodestructive host response. This article reviews current knowledge of the pathogenic mechanisms of bacteria of the red complex leading to tissue and alveolar bone destruction observed during periodontitis.

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