Oral application of a periodontal pathogen impacts SerpinE1 expression and pancreatic islet architecture in prediabetes

J Periodontal Res. 2017 Dec;52(6):1032-1041. doi: 10.1111/jre.12474. Epub 2017 Jun 23.


Background and objectives: Epidemiological studies suggest a close association between periodontitis and prediabetes/insulin resistance (IR) but whether periodontitis causes prediabetes in humans is not known. Using various animal models, we have recently established that periodontitis can be an initiator of prediabetes, which is characterized by glucose intolerance, hyperinsulinemia and IR. In addition, our in vitro studies indicated that Porphyromonas gingivalis (Pg) induced insulin secretion in MIN6 β cells and this induction was in part SerpinE1 (plasminogen activator inhibitor 1, PAI1) dependent. However, the mechanism(s) by which periodontitis induces prediabetes is not known. As α and β cells in pancreatic islets are the major modulators of glucose levels, we investigated whether experimental periodontitis by oral application of a periodontal pathogen caused molecular and/or cellular alterations in pancreatic islets and whether SerpinE1 was involved in this process.

Material and methods: We induced periodontitis in C57BL/6 mice by oral application of a periodontal pathogen, Pg, and determined changes that occurred in islets following 22 weeks of Pg application. Pancreatic islet architecture was determined by 2-D and 3-D immunofluorescence microscopy and SerpinE1 and its target, urokinase plasminogen activator (uPA), as well as insulin, glucagon and Pg/gingipain in islets were detected by immunofluorescence. The presence of apoptotic islet cells was determined by both histochemical and immunofluorescence TUNEL assays. To investigate further the direct effect of Pg on apoptosis and the involvement of SerpinE1 in this process, we used SerpinE1 knockdown and scrambled control clones of the MIN6 pancreatic β-cell line.

Results: Pg/gingipain was detected in both the periodontium and pancreas in the experimental group. Islets from animals that were administered Pg orally (experimental group) developed significant changes in islet architecture, upregulation of SerpinE1, and increased β-cell apoptosis compared with the control group. We also observed that exposure of MIN6 cells to Pg in vitro resulted in apoptosis. However, apoptosis was significantly reduced when SerpinE1 expression by MIN6 cells was knocked down.

Conclusion: Oral application of the periodontal pathogen Pg to C57BL/6 mice induces periodontitis, translocation of Pg/gingipain to the pancreas and results in complex alterations in pancreatic islet morphology. SerpinE1 appears to be involved in this process.

Keywords: Porphyromonas gingivalis; SerpinE1; pancreatic islets; prediabetes.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis
  • Bacteroidaceae Infections / complications
  • Blotting, Western
  • Islets of Langerhans / pathology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Periodontitis / complications*
  • Plasminogen Activator Inhibitor 1 / metabolism*
  • Porphyromonas gingivalis / metabolism*
  • Prediabetic State / etiology*


  • Plasminogen Activator Inhibitor 1