Classical and Alternative Activation of Rat Microglia Treated with Ultrapure Porphyromonas gingivalis Lipopolysaccharide In Vitro

Toxins (Basel). 2020 May 19;12(5):333. doi: 10.3390/toxins12050333.


The possible relationship between periodontal disease resulting from the infection of gingival tissue by the Gram-negative bacterium Porphyromonas gingivalis (P. gingivalis) and the development of neuroinflammation remains under investigation. Recently, P. gingivalis lipopolysaccharide (LPS) was reported in the human brain, thus suggesting it might activate brain microglia, a cell type participating in neuroinflammation. We tested the hypothesis of whether in vitro exposure to ultrapure P. gingivalis LPS may result in classical and alternative activation phenotypes of rat microglia, with the concomitant release of cytokines and chemokines, as well as superoxide anion (O2-), thromboxane B2 (TXB2), and matrix metalloprotease-9 (MMP-9). After an 18-h exposure of microglia to P. gingivalis LPS, the concentration-dependent responses were the following: 0.1-100 ng/mL P. gingivalis LPS increased O2- generation, with reduced inflammatory mediator generation; 1000-10,000 ng/mL P. gingivalis LPS generated MMP-9, macrophage inflammatory protein 1α (MIP-1α/CCL3), macrophage inflammatory protein-2 (MIP-2/CXCL2) release and significant O2- generation; 100,000 ng/mL P. gingivalis LPS sustained O2- production, maintained MMP-9, tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), and interleukin-6 (IL-6) release, and triggered elevated levels of MIP-1α/CCL3, MIP-2/CXCL2, and cytokine-induced neutrophil chemoattractant 1 (CINC-1/CXCL-1), with a very low release of lactic dehydrogenase (LDH). Although P. gingivalis LPS was less potent than Escherichia coli (E. coli) LPS in stimulating TXB2, MMP-9, IL-6 and interleukin 10 (IL-10) generation, we observed that it appeared more efficacious in enhancing the release of O2-, TNF-α, MIP-1α/CCL3, MIP-2/CXCL2 and CINC-1/CXCL-1. Our results provide support to our research hypothesis because an 18-h in vitro stimulation with ultrapure P. gingivalis LPS resulted in the classical and alternative activation of rat brain microglia and the concomitant release of cytokines and chemokines.

Keywords: Escherichia coli; Porphyromonas gingivalis; lipopolysaccharide; microglia; neuroinflammation; periodontitis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Inflammation Mediators / metabolism
  • Lipopolysaccharides / isolation & purification
  • Lipopolysaccharides / pharmacology*
  • Matrix Metalloproteinase 9 / metabolism
  • Microglia / drug effects*
  • Microglia / metabolism
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects
  • Phenotype
  • Porphyromonas gingivalis / metabolism*
  • Rats
  • Superoxides / metabolism
  • Thromboxane B2 / metabolism


  • Cytokines
  • Inflammation Mediators
  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • Superoxides
  • Thromboxane B2
  • Matrix Metalloproteinase 9
  • Mmp9 protein, rat