Porphyromonas gingivalis infection enhances Th17 responses for development of atherosclerosis

Yu Cai, Ryoki Kobayashi, Tomomi Hashizume-Takizawa, Tomoko Kurita-Ochiai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives Porphyromonas gingivalis has been shown to associate with the development of atherosclerosis. Recent studies indicate that IL-17-producing T helper 17 (Th17) cells have been correlated with the emergence of atherosclerosis. Therefore, we investigated whether the Th17 cell response and expression of Th17-related molecules, in contrast with Th1- and Treg cells, are enhanced by P. gingivalis-challenge in Apolipoprotein E knockout (ApoE KO) mice. Design Five mice were intravenously injected with P. gingivalis three times a week for 3 weeks and killed at 15 weeks of age. The proximal aorta lesion area, flow cytometry analysis and IL-17, IL-10, IFN-γ, and IL-1β levels in splenic cultures, and expression of Th17-related molecules in spleen and hearts were examined. Results P. gingivalis-challenge showed notable accumulation of atherosclerotic plaques by Oil Red O-staining in ApoE KO mice. Intracellular cytokine staining revealed that significantly elevated CD4+ interleukin (IL)-17A+ T cells and slightly increased CD4+ Foxp3+ T cells was recognized in spleen cells of P. gingivalis-challenged mice compared with those from non-infected mice. P. gingivalis-challenge significantly increased IL-17 and IL-1β production and RORγt expression in splenic cells. Furthermore, the expression of Th17-related genes such as IL-6, TGF-β, RORγt and STAT3 were elevated in splenic cells as well as heart tissue of P. gingivalis-challenged mice. Conclusion These results suggest that P. gingivalis infection may enhance pro-inflammatory Th17 cell responses in lesion areas and spleen, thereby accelerating atherosclerosis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1183-1191
Number of pages9
JournalArchives of Oral Biology
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2014


  • Atherosclerosis
  • Porphyromonas gingivalis
  • Regulatory T cells
  • T-helper 1 cells
  • T-helper 17 cells


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