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Infect Immun. 1996 Feb;64(2):434-40.

Identification of murine protective epitopes on the Porphyromonas gingivalis fimbrillin molecule.

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  • 1Dental Research Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 27599, USA.


Fimbriae from Porphyromonas gingivalis are believed to play an important role in the pathogenesis of periodontal diseases. The aim of the present study was to identify the fimbrial protective T-cell epitopes in CBA/J mice. A truncated protein corresponding to amino acids 1 to 198, PgF1-198, was generated and allowed us to demonstrate that the N terminus of the protein contains T-cell epitopes. With synthetic peptides, an immunodominant sequence was identified between amino acids 103 and 122. The corresponding peptide, PgF-P8, induced T-cell proliferation after in vitro restimulation of in vivo-primed cells, giving a stimulation index comparable to the one obtained with r-fimbrillin, and induced production of both Th1 and Th2 cytokines. Growth supernatant contained significant levels of interleukin 2 (IL-2), gamma interferon, IL-4 (28 pg/ml), and tumor necrosis factor alpha. Immunization of mice with r-fimbrillin, PgF1-198, and PgF-P8 induced production of antibodies specific to r-fimbrillin and PgF-P8. In addition, by using the mouse chamber model we found that mice immunized with PgF-P8 were dramatically protected against a normally lethal injection of P. gingivalis. Animals immunized with PgF-P8 40 days prior to challenge showed a 60% survival rate when challenged with P. gingivalis, compared with just 25% survival in control animals and just 5% survival in mice immunized with PgF-P8 only 21 days prior to challenge. Although the protection depended on the time of immunization before the bacterial challenge, it did not correlate with in vivo local cytokine production (IL-2, IL-4, IL-6, tumor necrosis factor alpha, and gamma interferon), specific antibody levels, or the isotype of anti-PgF-P8 antibodies produced.

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