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J Periodontal Res. 1993 Jul;28(4):248-54.

Activation of serum complement by polysaccharide-containing antigens of Porphyromonas gingivalis.

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Department of Oral Biology, School of Dental Medicine, State University of New York, Buffalo.


We previously reported that hot aqueous phenol extraction of Porphyromonas gingivalis yields a preparation containing both lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and an antigenically distinct capsular polysaccharide (PS). In the present study, we examined the capacity of phenol-water extracts from a number of strains of P. gingivalis to activate human serum complement. Anticomplementary activity of extracts from two invasive and two noninvasive strains of P. gingivalis was assessed in a sheep erythrocyte hemolytic assay and in an alternative pathway-selective rabbit erythrocyte hemolytic assay. In the sheep erythrocyte assay, extracts from noninvasive strains were found to exhibit greater anticomplementary activity than extracts derived from invasive strains. A phenol-water extract from invasive strain ATCC 53977 was further resolved into its LPS and PS fractions. Whereas isolated LPS from this strain exhibited strong anticomplementary activity, the PS fraction was only weakly active. Phenol-water extracts from three of four strains were found to be potent activators of the alternative pathway, with extracts from the two noninvasive strains being most active. The extract from the remaining strain (ATCC 53977) was a poor activator of the alternative pathway. Further analysis of this extract revealed, however, that the LPS fraction was a potent activator of the alternative pathway, although the PS fraction exhibited negligible activity. The results of this study indicate that phenol-water extracts of invasive and noninvasive strains of P. gingivalis differ in their respective anticomplementary activities, with invasive strains being less active. Although extracts from both invasive and noninvasive strains activated the alternative pathway, this activity appears to be attributable to the LPS, rather than the PS, component.

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