The pathogenicity of the periodontal biofilm is highly dependent on a few key species, of which Porphyromonas gingivalis is considered to be one of the most important pathogens. P. gingivalis expresses a broad range of virulence factors, of these cysteine proteases (gingipains) are of special importance both for the bacterial survival/proliferation and for the pathological outcome. Several cell types, for example, epithelial cells, endothelial cells, dendritic cells, osteoblasts, and fibroblasts, reside in the periodontium and are part of the innate host response, as well as platelets, neutrophils, lymphocytes, and monocytes/macrophages. These cells recognize and respond to P. gingivalis and its components through pattern recognition receptors (PRRs), for example, Toll-like receptors and protease-activated receptors. Ligation of PRRs induces downstream-signaling pathways modifying the activity of transcription factors that regulates the expression of genes linked to inflammation. This is followed by the release of inflammatory mediators, for example, cytokines and reactive oxygen species. Periodontal disease is today considered to play a significant role in various systemic conditions such as cardiovascular disease (CVD). The mechanisms by which P. gingivalis and its virulence factors interact with host immune cells and contribute to the pathogenesis of periodontitis and CVD are far from completely understood.
Part of the book: Periodontitis