Accumulating evidence suggests that bacteria associated with periodontal disease such as gingivitis may reduce the allergic response involved in allergic asthma and hay fever.
Although the improvement in oral hygiene practices in recent decades correlates with the increased incidence of asthma in developed nations, it is not known whether diseases of the respiratory system might be influenced by the presence of oral pathogens.
The present study sought to determine whether subcutaneous infection with the anaerobic oral pathogen Porphyromonas gingivalis exerts a regulatory effect on allergic airway inflammation. BALB/c mice sensitized and subsequently challenged with ovalbumin exhibited airway hyperresponsiveness to methacholine aerosol and increased airway inflammatory cell influx and Th2 cytokine (interleukin-4 [IL-4], IL-5, and IL-13) content relative to those in nonallergic controls.
Airway inflammatory cell and cytokine contents were significantly reduced by establishment of a subcutaneous infection with P. gingivalis prior to allergen sensitization, whereas serum levels of ovalbumin-specific IgE and airway responsiveness were not altered.
Conversely, subcutaneous infection initiated after allergen sensitization did not alter inflammatory end points but did reduce airway responsiveness in spite of increased serum IgE levels.
These data provide the first direct evidence of a regulatory effect of an oral pathogen on allergic airway inflammation and responsiveness. Furthermore, a temporal importance of the establishment of infection relative to allergen sensitization is demonstrated for allergic outcomes.
Infection and Immunity - Modulation of Allergic Airway Inflammation by the Oral Pathogen Porphyromonas gingivalis
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First Published in June 2010
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