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J Periodontal Res. 1994 Jan;29(1):62-9.

Porphyromonas gingivalis invades human pocket epithelium in vitro.

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Department of Periodontology, Faculties of Odontology, University of Gothenburg, Sweden.


The present study examined the adhesive and invasive potential of Porphyromonas gingivalis interacting with human pocket epithelium in vitro. Pocket epithelial tissue, obtained during periodontal surgery of patients with advanced periodontal disease, generated a stratified epithelium in culture. P. gingivalis strains W50 and FDC 381 (laboratory strains), OMGS 712, 1439, 1738, 1739 and 1743 (clinical isolates) as well as Escherichia coli strain HB101 (non-adhering control) were tested with respect to epithelial adhesion and invasion. Adhesion was quantitated by scintillation spectrometry after incubation of radiolabeled bacteria with epithelial cells. The invasive ability of P. gingivalis was measured by means of an antibiotic protection assay. The epithelial multilayers were infected with the test and control strains and subsequently incubated with an antibiotic mixture (metronidazole 0.1 mg/ml and gentamicin 0.5 mg/ml). The number of internalized bacteria surviving the antibiotic treatment was assessed after plating lyzed epithelial cells on culture media. All tested P. gingivalis strains adhered to and entered pocket epithelial cells. However, considerable variation in their adhesive and invasive potential was observed. E. coli strain HB101 did not adhere or invade. Transmission electron microscopy revealed that internalization of P. gingivalis was preceded by formation of microvilli and coated pits on the epithelial cell surfaces. Intracellular bacteria were most frequently surrounded by endosomal membranes; however, bacteria devoid of such membranes were also seen. Release of outer membrane vesicles (blebs) by internalized P. gingivalis was observed. These results support and extend previous work from this laboratory which demonstrated invasion of a human oral epithelial cell-line (KB) by P. gingivalis.

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