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PLoS One. 2010 Dec 23;5(12):e15613. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0015613.

Bioinformatics analysis of macrophages exposed to Porphyromonas gingivalis: implications in acute vs. chronic infections.

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Bioinformatics Graduate Program, Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America.



Periodontitis is the most common human infection affecting tooth-supporting structures. It was shown to play a role in aggravating atherosclerosis. To deepen our understanding of the pathogenesis of this disease, we exposed human macrophages to an oral bacteria, Porphyromonas gingivalis (P. gingivalis), either as live bacteria or its LPS or fimbria. Microarray data from treated macrophages or control cells were analyzed to define molecular signatures. Changes in genes identified in relevant pathways were validated by RT-PCR.


We focused our analysis on three important groups of genes. Group PG (genes differentially expressed by live bacteria only); Group LFG (genes differentially expressed in response to exposure to LPS and/or FimA); Group CG (core gene set jointly activated by all 3 stimulants). A total of 842 macrophage genes were differentially expressed in at least one of the three conditions compared to naïve cells. Using pathway analysis, we found that group CG activates the initial phagocytosis process and induces genes relevant to immune response, whereas group PG can de-activate the phagocytosis process associated with phagosome-lysosome fusion. LFG mostly affected RIG-I-like receptor signaling pathway.


In light of the fact that acute infections involve live bacteria while chronic infections involve a combination of live bacteria and their byproducts, group PG could represent acute P. gingivalis infection while group LFG could represent chronic P. gingivalis infection. Group CG may be associated with core immune pathways, triggered irrespective of the specific stimulants and indispensable to mount an appropriate immune response. Implications in acute vs. chronic infection are discussed.

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