Complementary Tolls in the periodontium: how periodontal bacteria modify complement and Toll-like receptor responses to prevail in the host

Periodontol 2000. 2010 Feb;52(1):141-62. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0757.2009.00324.x.


The complement and the Toll-like receptors are rapidly activatable systems which, in concert, provide first-line innate defense against infection and act as mediators between the innate and the adaptive immune response. The ability of periodontal bacteria to persist and establish chronic infections in the periodontium suggests that they may have evolved strategies to evade, disarm, or subvert these defense systems to their own advantage. Indeed, accumulating evidence indicates that at least some of the major periodontal pathogens utilize ingenious mechanisms to not only undermine each system separately, but also exploit crosstalk points between the complement and the Toll-like receptor pathways. It is conceivable that immune subversive activities by certain keynote periodontal pathogens, such as those comprising the so-called “red complex”, may be critical for the persistence of the entire mixed-species biofilm community in the diseased periodontium. This review summarizes and synthesizes recent discoveries in this field, which offers important insights into the pathology associated with the complex periodontal host-microbe interplay.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacteroides / immunology
  • Complement System Proteins / immunology*
  • Gram-Negative Bacteria / immunology
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate / immunology
  • Periodontal Diseases / immunology
  • Periodontal Diseases / microbiology*
  • Porphyromonas gingivalis / immunology
  • Prevotella intermedia / immunology
  • Receptor Cross-Talk / immunology
  • Toll-Like Receptors / immunology*


  • Toll-Like Receptors
  • Complement System Proteins