Mixed infections with Porphyromonas gingivalis and Treponema denticola cause excessive inflammatory responses in a mouse pneumonia model compared with monoinfections

Microbes Infect. 2003 Dec;5(15):1357-62. doi: 10.1016/j.micinf.2003.09.015.


Periodontopathic anaerobes such as Porphyromonas gingivalis are frequently found in aspiration pneumonia and lung abscesses. However, defense mechanisms and responses to these bacterial infections in the lung in vivo remain poorly understood. The coexistence of P. gingivalis with Treponema denticola has been found at higher levels and proportions in periodontally diseased sites. We hypothesized that mixed infections with P. gingivalis and T. denticola can cause severe respiratory disease. In the present study, inflammatory responses to mono- and mixed inoculations with P. gingivalis and T. denticola in the bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid were investigated. Acute pneumonia and lung abscesses in mice with the mixed infection resulted in a 40% mortality rate within 72 h, compared with only 10% mortality for the respective monoinfections. Pulmonary clearance of P. gingivalis was delayed in the mice with mixed infections with P. gingivalis and T. denticola. Tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFalpha) interleukin-1beta (IL-1beta) and interleukin-6 (IL-6) levels from BAL fluid of mice with mixed infections at 24 h after inoculation were significantly higher than those after P. gingivalis monoinfection (TNFalpha: P < 0.05, Il-1beta: P < 0.001, IL-6: P < 0.05). The chemokine KC level from BAL fluid of mice at 48 h (P < 0.05) and 72 h after mixed infection was also significantly increased when compared with that after P. gingivalis monoinfection (P < 0.001). The present study demonstrates that a mixed infection of P. gingivalis with T. denticola in mouse causes a marked bronchopneumonia and lung abscess in the mouse model.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Abscess / immunology
  • Animals
  • Bacteroidaceae Infections / complications*
  • Bronchoalveolar Lavage Fluid / microbiology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Inflammation / etiology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Pneumonia, Aspiration / microbiology*
  • Pneumonia, Aspiration / pathology
  • Porphyromonas gingivalis*
  • Treponema*
  • Treponemal Infections / complications*