Elevated antibody levels to periodontopathogens in GCF have been identified and used as support for local antibody synthesis in periodontitis. This study examined both cross-sectional and longitudinal GCF samples for the antigenic specificity of antibody in the fluid. GCF samples were collected from each tooth of 27 periodontitis patients infected with A. actinomycetemcomitans. Levels of IgG antibody in the GCF were assessed by means of an ELISA and compared with serum for determination of local elevations. A proportion of those GCF samples that exhibited significantly elevated antibody were examined by Western immunoblotting to outer membrane antigens from A. actinomycetemcomitans. Homologous sera were also examined for comparison of antibody specificities. Of the sites with elevated IgG antibody, 87% were colonized by A. actinomycetemcomitans; however, 46% of sites with A. actinomycetemcomitans infection did not have elevated antibody. Cross-sectional studies identified a 78 to 100% agreement between the antibody specificities in GCF and those in serum. Additionally, patterns of antibody reactivity in both GCF and serum in the subjects were often very distinctive. Longitudinal alterations in GCF antibody were examined in 15 patients through a monitoring interval of up to 2 years and showed a general conservation of specificities. However, 7/15 patients exhibited a definite acquisition of different antibody specificities during the monitoring. These results describe a relationship between elevated local antibody and A. actinomycetemcomitans infection. Furthermore, the antibody specificities in serum appear to reflect generally the local response to this pathogen.
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