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J Dent Res. 1999 Jan;78(1):77-85.

Dominant cross-reactive antibodies generated during the response to a variety of oral bacterial species detect phosphorylcholine.

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Institute of Oral Microbiology and General Immunology, University of Zürich, Switzerland.


The intraperitoneal immunization of Balb/c mice with subgingival plaque from advanced periodontal pockets or with certain strains of Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans, Fusobacterium nucleatum, Actinomyces israelii, Streptococcus mitis, or Streptococcus oralis yielded frequently indistinguishable IgM monoclonal antibodies which were reactive with antigens from a variety of oral bacteria. This study aimed to characterize the specificity of such monoclonal antibodies and the diversity of oral bacteria expressing this target antigen or epitope. Using a competitive enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay to study a variety of competitor substances for their capacity to bind to the monoclonal antibodies, we identified phosphorylcholine as the recognized epitope. The concentration of positive bacteria with extraordinarily bright cell wall fluorescence in indirect immunofluorescence assays varied between 0.1% and 15% in subgingival and from 10 to 40% in supragingival plaque samples. Labeled bacteria belonged to different morphotypes, including cocci, rods, and filaments. Of 75 species tested in vitro, 14 gram-positive and four gram-negative species were found to harbor positive strains. Haemophilus aphrophilus, Streptococcus mitis, Actinomyces georgiae, Actinomyces gerencseriae, Actinomyces israelii, and Actinomyces odontolyticus were human oral species of which all tested strains were capable of binding the cross-reactive monoclonal antibodies. In contrast, Actinomyces naeslundii was consistently negative. These data provide evidence for a much more common expression of phosphorylcholine by oral bacteria than hitherto believed but do not indicate an obvious association of phosphorylcholine expression with oral health or inflammatory periodontal diseases.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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