Involvement of T-lymphocytes in Periodontal Disease and in Direct and Indirect Induction of Bone Resorption

Crit Rev Oral Biol Med. 2001;12(2):125-35. doi: 10.1177/10454411010120020301.


Periodontal disease is a peripheral infection involving species of gram-negative organisms. T-lymphocytes can be found in the dense inflammatory infiltrate in this disease. CD4+ and CD8+ T-cells are present in periodontal lesions, as are memory/activated T-lymphocytes. In addition, Th1- and Th2-type T-lymphocytes and their associated cytokines with a subtle polarization to Th1 may be present. Th1-type T-cells up-regulate the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines IL-1 and TNF-alpha, which can induce bone resorption indirectly by promoting differentiation of osteoclast precursors and subsequently by activating osteoclasts. Such osteoclast differentiation is dependent on stimulation of osteoprotegerin ligand (OPG-L) production by osteoblastic cells. By contrast, activated T-cells, by virtue of direct production and expression of OPG-L, can directly promote osteoclast differentiation. OPG-L appears to be predominantly expressed on Th1-type cells. The direct and indirect T-cell involvement in periodontal bone resorption appears to be dependent on the degree of Th1-type T-cell recruitment into inflamed gingival tissues. This T-cell recruitment is regulated by adhesion molecules and chemokines/chemokine receptors. The adhesion molecules involved include alpha4 and alpha6 integrins, LFA-1, and ICAM-1. The Th1-type T-cells preferentially express CCR5 and CXCR3, which are found prominently in diseased gingivae. By contrast, little CCR4, expressed by Th2-type T-cells, can be detected. Also, the chemokine ligands RANTES, MIP1-alpha (both CCR5), and IP-10 (CXCR3 ligand) were elevated in inflamed periodontal tissues. The T-cell features in diseased periodontal tissues can be compared with those in rheumatoid arthritis, wherein bone resorption often attributed to Th1-type T-cell involvement has also been demonstrated.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alveolar Bone Loss / immunology*
  • Animals
  • Carrier Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules / biosynthesis
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Chemokines / biosynthesis
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-1 / biosynthesis
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / biosynthesis
  • Osteoclasts / physiology
  • Periodontitis / immunology*
  • RANK Ligand
  • Receptor Activator of Nuclear Factor-kappa B
  • Receptors, Chemokine / biosynthesis
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / metabolism*
  • Th1 Cells / metabolism*
  • Th2 Cells / metabolism
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / biosynthesis
  • Up-Regulation


  • Carrier Proteins
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules
  • Chemokines
  • Interleukin-1
  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • RANK Ligand
  • Receptor Activator of Nuclear Factor-kappa B
  • Receptors, Chemokine
  • TNFRSF11A protein, human
  • TNFSF11 protein, human
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha