Genetic and intervention studies implicating complement C3 as a major target for the treatment of periodontitis

J Immunol. 2014 Jun 15;192(12):6020-7. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1400569. Epub 2014 May 7.


Chronic periodontitis is induced by a dysbiotic microbiota and leads to inflammatory destruction of tooth-supporting connective tissue and bone. The third component of complement, C3, is a point of convergence of distinct complement activation mechanisms, but its involvement in periodontitis was not previously addressed. We investigated this question using two animal species models, namely, C3-deficient or wild-type mice and nonhuman primates (NHPs) locally treated with a potent C3 inhibitor (the compstatin analog Cp40) or an inactive peptide control. In mice, C3 was required for maximal periodontal inflammation and bone loss, and for the sustenance of the dysbiotic microbiota. The effect of C3 on the microbiota was therefore different from that reported for the C5a receptor, which is required for the initial induction of dysbiosis. C3-dependent bone loss was demonstrated in distinct models, including Porphyromonas gingivalis-induced periodontitis, ligature-induced periodontitis, and aging-associated periodontitis. Importantly, local treatment of NHPs with Cp40 inhibited ligature-induced periodontal inflammation and bone loss, which correlated with lower gingival crevicular fluid levels of proinflammatory mediators (e.g., IL-17 and RANKL) and decreased osteoclastogenesis in bone biopsy specimens, as compared with control treatment. To our knowledge, this is the first time, for any disease, that complement inhibition in NHPs was shown to inhibit inflammatory processes that lead to osteoclastogenesis and bone loss. These data strongly support the feasibility of C3-targeted intervention for the treatment of human periodontitis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacteroidaceae Infections* / drug therapy
  • Bacteroidaceae Infections* / genetics
  • Bacteroidaceae Infections* / immunology
  • Bacteroidaceae Infections* / pathology
  • Bone Resorption* / drug therapy
  • Bone Resorption* / genetics
  • Bone Resorption* / immunology
  • Bone Resorption* / pathology
  • Complement C3* / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Complement C3* / genetics
  • Complement C3* / immunology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inflammation Mediators / immunology
  • Macaca fascicularis
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Osteoclasts / immunology
  • Osteoclasts / pathology
  • Peptides, Cyclic / pharmacology
  • Periodontitis* / drug therapy
  • Periodontitis* / genetics
  • Periodontitis* / immunology
  • Periodontitis* / pathology
  • Porphyromonas gingivalis / immunology*
  • Pyridones / pharmacology*


  • Complement C3
  • Inflammation Mediators
  • Peptides, Cyclic
  • Pyridones
  • compstatin
  • 1-(ethan-1-ol)-2-methyl-3-hydroxypyridin-4-one