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PLoS One. 2019 Mar 11;14(3):e0213338. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0213338. eCollection 2019.

Specific clones of Trichomonas tenax are associated with periodontitis.

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Aix-Marseille Université UM63, Institut de Recherche pour le Développement IRD, Assistance Publique-Hôpitaux de Marseille (AP-HM), Microbes, Evolution, Phylogeny and Infection (MEΦI), Institut Hospitalo-Universitaire (IHU) - Méditerranée Infection, Marseille, France.
UFR Odontologie, Aix-Marseille Université, Marseille, France.


Trichomonas tenax, an anaerobic protist difficult to cultivate with an unreliable molecular identification, has been suspected of involvement in periodontitis, a multifactorial inflammatory dental disease affecting the soft tissue and bone of periodontium. A cohort of 106 periodontitis patients classified by stages of severity and 85 healthy adult control patients was constituted. An efficient culture protocol, a new identification tool by real-time qPCR of T. tenax and a Multi-Locus Sequence Typing system (MLST) based on T. tenax NIH4 reference strain were created. Fifty-three strains of Trichomonas sp. were obtained from periodontal samples. 37/106 (34.90%) T. tenax from patients with periodontitis and 16/85 (18.80%°) T. tenax from control patients were detected by culture (p = 0.018). Sixty of the 191 samples were tested positive for T. tenax by qPCR, 24/85 (28%) controls and 36/106 (34%) periodontitis patients (p = 0.089). By combining both results, 45/106 (42.5%) patients were positive by culture and/or PCR, as compared to 24/85 (28.2%) controls (p = 0.042). A link was established between the carriage in patients of Trichomonas tenax and the severity of the disease. Genotyping demonstrates the presence of strain diversity with three major different clusters and a relation between disease strains and the periodontitis severity (p<0.05). More frequently detected in periodontal cases, T. tenax is likely to be related to the onset or/and evolution of periodontal diseases.

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Conflict of interest statement

The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

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