Background: The value of seroepidemiology in the study of periodontal infections has not been adequately explored. This study examined serum immunoglobulin (IgG) responses to periodontal bacteria in patients with periodontitis and periodontitis-free individuals over a 30-month period.
Methods: Eighty-nine patients with chronic periodontitis and 42 control subjects with no deep periodontal pockets and no or minimal attachment loss (30-72 years old, 43% men) were included. Patients were examined at baseline, after completed periodontal therapy 4 months post-baseline, and at 30 months, and controls, at baseline and 30 months. IgG antibodies to 19 periodontal species were determined by checkerboard immunoblotting.
Results: On average, patients displayed at baseline up to 800-fold higher titers than controls to all but three species. Over the 30-month period, titers remained stable at low levels in controls. In patients, periodontal conditions improved from a baseline mean probing depth of 3.6 mm, bleeding on probing of 62% and an average of 21.5 pockets of=6 mm/person, to 2.5 mm mean pocket depth, 30% bleeding on probing, and 1.2 deep pockets, at 30 months. Over time, antibody titers showed a modest decline in patients, but remained significantly elevated at 30 months in comparison with controls. Antibody-level changes over time were not significantly different between subjects that did and did not receive adjunctive systemic antibiotics.
Conclusions: Conspicuous differences in IgG titers to periodontal bacteria exist between periodontitis patients and periodontally healthy controls. Despite successful periodontal therapy, titers remained elevated over a 30-month period, suggesting that serology may mark the history of past periodontal infection.
(c) Blackwell Munksgaard, 2004