Longitudinal dynamics of infection and serum antibody in A. actinomycetemcomitans periodontitis

JL Ebersole, D. Cappelli, MJ Steffen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


OBJECTS: This report describes one of the first prospective studies delineating the relationship between infection, host antibody responses and disease exacerbations and remissions in a distinct subset of periodontitis patients infected with A. actinomycetemcomitans. DESIGN: The design of this longitudinal study included visits for each patient approximately every 2 months for up to 3 years. SUBJECTS AND METHODS: Subjects (n = 51) included 16 adult periodontitis (AP) and 11 early‐onset periodontitis (EOP) patients with elevated serum IgG antibody to A. actinomycetemcomitans and infection with this microorganism, 12 AP patients with normal levels of anti‐Aa antibody, and 12 normal subjects. MEASUREMENT OUTCOMES: Clinical parameters included a gingival index, plaque index, bleeding on probing, pocket depth, and attachment level. Disease activity was defined as loss of attachment during the monitoring intervals. Serum IgG, IgM and IgA antibody to A. actinomycetemcomitans Y4 (serotype b) was quantit‐ated using an ELISA. Subgingival plaque samples were examined for A. actinomycetemcomitans using colony immunobiotting. Human serum IgG antibody specificities to outer membrane antigens (OMA) of A. actinomycetemcomitans Y4 were determined using Western immunoblotting. RESULTS: A. actinomycetemcomitans‐infected AP patients had a higher frequency of teeth infected when compared to the EOP patients. However, the EOP patients exhibited a trend for higher levels of A. actinomycetemcomitans in those teeth that were infected. Active disease patients demonstrated a significantly greater frequency of infected sites, as well as significant elevations in the proportions of A. octinomycetemcomitans. Both EOP and AP groups showed significantly elevated IgG, IgM and IgA antibody to A. actinomycetemcornitans when compared to a periodontally normal group. The level of IgG antibody was significantly elevated in A. actinomycetemcomitans‐positive patients with active disease, while IgA antibody was decreased in a number of the active group patients. Plaque samples derived from active sites showed a clear and significant increase in A. actinomycetemcomitans that occurred from 2–6 months prior to the identification of disease activity. Approximately 70% of the active disease patients showed an increase in IgG antibody level by 2–4 months prior to disease activity. Studies of the antigen reactivity patterns of serum IgG indicated that antibody to antigens of 65, 58, 48, 29 and 24 kDa were more frequent in patients who showed active disease, while those patients with the greatest frequency of active disease appeared to show a general decrease in the recognition of the A. actinomycetemcomitans OMA. CONCLUSIONS: It appears that A. actinomycetemcomitans infection relates to a particular type of disease with accompanying antibody responses that reflect periods of active disease. The dynamics of A. actinomycetemcomitans infection and the level and specificity of systemic antibody responses to this pathogen support an important contribution of the immune response to managing this infection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)129-138
Number of pages10
JournalOral Diseases
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1995


  • A. actopucetecpotams
  • antibody
  • antigens
  • outer members
  • periodontitis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Dentistry(all)


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