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Eur J Oral Sci. 2000 Apr;108(2):136-46.

Anaerobic neutrophil-dependent killing of Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans in relation to the bacterial leukotoxicity.

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Department of Odontology, Faculty of Medicine and Odontology, Umeå University, Sweden.


The effect of leukotoxin on the interaction of Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans with human polymorphonuclear leukocytes (PMNL) was studied under anaerobic conditions with strains able to produce high or low amounts of leukotoxin. PMNL morphology, phagocytosis and killing were examined by transmission electron microscopy and bioassays, respectively. At ratios of > or =25 bacteria/PMNL, a highly toxic A. actinomycetemcomitans strain completely destroyed the PMNL within 7 min, resulting in bacterial survival. Lowering the bacteria/PMNL-ratio enabled phagocytosis and killing of this highly toxic strain. A. actinomycetemcomitans strains with low leukotoxicity were effectively killed by PMNL under any condition. Presence of specific antibodies against A. actinomycetemcomitans or of anti-leukotoxin serum protected PMNL from being injured and allowed phagocytosis to occur. Pre-incubation of the leukotoxic strain with Porphyromonas gingivalis, a bacterium that destroys leukotoxin, abolished lysis of PMNL and inhibited phagocytosis of A. actinomycetemcomitans. The results show that leukotoxin may protect A. actinomycetemcomitans against phagocytosis by human PMNL. The protection occurs at a population level and in relation to the bacterial load. The size of the bacterial population required to counteract phagocytosis is dependent on the leukotoxin production of the strain.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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