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Oral Microbiol Immunol. 2003 Aug;18(4):226-33.

In vitro environmental regulation of Porphyromonas gingivalis growth and virulence.

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Center for Oral Health Research, College of Dentistry, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY 40536-0305, USA.


Porphyromonas gingivalis appears to be a major contributor to periodontal disease, especially soft tissue destruction, which is reflected by the ability to cause invasive, spreading lesions, and tissue inflammation in a murine abscess model. This study investigated the role of hemin on the regulation of growth and virulence of P. gingivalis strains. P. gingivalis strains W50, A7A1-28, 3079, 381, W50/BEI, and NG4B19 were grown in broth and on blood agar plates. P. gingivalis cells grown under iron-depleted conditions for multiple passages showed significantly decreased lesion size in mice, in contrast to cells grown under iron-normal (5 microg/ml) and iron-elevated conditions. Statistically significant (P < 0.01) decreases in gingipain enzyme activity were found among the strains grown under iron-depleted conditions. P. gingivalis grown in the presence of blood induced significantly different lesion type, lesion size, lesion onset, and mortality. Elevated hemin resulted in increased cell-associated iron in P. gingivalis, which increased the capacity of the microorganism to survive at times of iron deprivation. These results indicate that hemin or iron availability regulates multiple aspects related to P. gingivalis virulence, including growth, survival, gingipain levels, and iron accumulation.

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