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J Immunol. 2011 Jul 1;187(1):501-9. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1100683. Epub 2011 Jun 1.

TLR2 signaling and Th2 responses drive Tannerella forsythia-induced periodontal bone loss.

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Department of Oral Biology, School of Dental Medicine, University at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY 14214, USA.


Periodontal disease (PD) is a chronic inflammation of the tooth-supporting soft tissue and alveolar bone due to infection by a select group of gram-negative microbes, which leads to tooth loss if untreated. Because mice deficient in CD4(+) cells are resistant to infection-induced alveolar bone loss, Th cells have been implicated in bone-destructive processes during PD. However, the extent to which different Th cell subtypes play roles in pathogenesis or host protection remains to be defined and is likely to vary depending on the dominant microorganism involved. By far, Porphyromonas gingivalis is the best-studied periodontal microbe in PD. Although the gram-negative anaerobe Tannerella forsythia is also a vital contributor to periodontal bone loss, almost nothing is known about immune responses to this organism. Previous studies from our laboratory revealed that T. forsythia induces periodontal bone loss in mice and that this bone loss depends on the bacterially expressed BspA protein. In this study, we showed that T. forsythia activates murine APCs primarily through TLR2-dependent signaling via BspA. Furthermore, T. forsythia infection causes a pronounced Th2 bias, evidenced by T cell expression of IL-5, but not IFN-γ or IL-17, in draining lymph nodes. Consistently, deficiencies in TLR2 or STAT6 result in resistance to T. forsythia-induced alveolar bone loss. Thus, TLR2 signaling and Th2 cells play pathogenic roles in T. forsythia-induced alveolar bone destruction.

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