Background: Anti-citrullinated protein antibody (ACPA) responses may precede clinical onset of rheumatoid arthritis. Porphyromonas gingivalis peptidylarginine deiminase can citrullinate proteins possibly inducing autoimmunity in susceptible individuals.
Aim: To determine whether periodontitis, carriage of P. gingivalis, smoking and periodontal therapy influence ACPA titres.
Methods: Serum and plaque samples were collected from 39 periodontitis patients before and after non-surgical periodontal treatment, and from 36 healthy subjects. Carriage of P. gingivalis was determined by PCR of plaque DNA. ACPA was determined by anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide (CCP) enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Anti-P. gingivalis titres were determined by ELISA.
Results: Untreated periodontitis patients had higher anti-CCP antibody titres than healthy controls [three patients (8%) greater than manufacturer suggested assay diagnostic threshold (5 Assay Units/AU) versus none (0%); mean ± SEM: 1.37 ± 0.23 versus 0.40 ± 0.10 AU, p < 0.0001]. Periodontitis patients who smoked demonstrated lower anti-P. gingivalis (15956 ± 4385 versus 2512 ± 1290 Units/ml, p < 0.05), but similar anti-CCP than non-smoking periodontitis patients (smokers: 1.31 ± 0.35; non-smokers: 1.41 ± 0.32 AU). Healthy smokers demonstrated elevated anti-CCP titres (0.75 ± 0.19 AU), at levels between healthy non-smokers (0.15 ± 0.05 AU) and non-smoker periodontitis patients. Six months after periodontal treatment, there were significant reductions in anti-CCP (non-smokers p < 0.05) and anti-P. gingivalis (all participants p < 0.01).
Conclusion: In subjects with periodontitis, P. gingivalis infection may be responsible for inducing autoimmune responses that characterize rheumatoid arthritis.
Keywords: autoimmunity; periodontal disease.
© 2013 John Wiley & Sons A/S. Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.