Objective(s): This report compares the virulence of selected strains of P. gingivalis, A. actinomycetemcomitans, C. rectus, F. nucleatum and T. denticola in a murine model as a measure of pathogenic potential of these oral microorganisms. The characteristics of the tissue destruction associated with these monoinfections were then related to a potential model for bacterial synergism in progressing periodontitis.
Design and methods: All bacterial strains were grown to mid-logarithmic to early stationary growth phase, harvested and used at various doses to challenge BALB/c normal and BALB/c dexamethasone (DEX) treated mice to mimic a neutrophil dysfunction. The characteristics of tissue destruction, and overt tissue destructive capacity of these species were examined as a function of challenge dose and time.
Outcome measures: The mice were examined for an interval of approximately 15 days post-challenge and the presence/absence of lesions, localized or generalized nature of the lesion (including size in mm2), and lethality of the infection were assessed.
Results: Comparison of the virulence of the various P. gingivalis strains related to lethality and lesion size associated with destruction of the connective tissue, indicated a virulence capacity of P. gingivalis strains 53977>W50 = T22>3079>33277>381. C. rectus elicited localized necrotic lesions which were limited to the epithelial layers of the skin. The size of the lesions also indicated a graded difference in virulence, such that C. rectus strains 234>576>>33238. A. actinomycetemcomitans caused the formation of classic localized abscesses with a PMN infiltrate and inflammatory exudates. Although each of the A. actinomycetemcomitans strains exhibited a similar virulence pattern in this murine model, A. actinomycetemcomitans serotype b representative strains were potentially more pathogenic with a virulence capacity of 3113D-N = 3975A>JP2 > or = Y4>29523>33384. Both C. rectus and A. actinomycetemcomitans strains showed clear evidence that recent clinical isolates were more virulent than laboratory strains. Challenge with F. nucleatum resulted in tissue destructive responses which were different from those observed with the other strains used in this study. A rapid onset of dose-dependent lesion development, related to the formation of either closed abscesses or open lesions, was observed with F. nucleatum. Tissue involvement was also greater at lower F. nucleatum doses when compared to the other bacteria. F. nucleatum challenge of DEX-treated mice resulted in a shift to open lesions. T. denticola appeared to be more tissue invasive than the other species examined in this study. Challenge of mice with T. denticola resulted in involvement of multiple tissues, including epithelial and connective tissues, as well as appearing to invade muscle layers and deeper tissues. In addition to invading deeper tissues, the resulting lesions took considerably longer to resolve. In the DEX-treated mice (neutrophil depleted), P. gingivalis, C. rectus, and A. actinomycetemcomitans were significantly more virulent. In contrast, while DEX treatment altered the characteristics of lesions caused by F. nucleatum, the extent of lesions produced by F. nucleatum and T. denticola was not substantially enhanced.
Conclusions: The results obtained from this study suggest that different microorganisms have the ability to provide individual pathologies which may act in an additive/synergistic fashion contributing to the tissue destruction noted in periodontitis.