• Treponema denticola;
  • redox;
  • pH;
  • oxygen;
  • hydrogen;
  • proteolysis

The effect of pH, redox potential, O2 and H2 on the growth and proteolytic activity of Treponema denticola ATCC 33520 was studied in a chemostat at different growth rates. The peptidase and protease activities were estimated using different amido-methyl coumarin derivatives and azocasein. The maximum growth rate of T. denticola ATCC 33520 was 0.14 h−1. Reduction of the growth rate of T. denticola by 50–60% gave: an increase in cell mass of 150–200%, a higher acetogenesis and a shift of the pH optimum. The protease and phenylalanine peptidase activities seemed to be of greater importance for the growth of T. denticola ATCC 33520 than the rather low arginine and proline peptidase activities. The redox potential (Eh) played a secondary role. At microaerophilic conditions with 1–5% O2, the cultures maintained a redox potential below −311 mV and an optimal acetogenesis. The presence of H? induced a marked growth stimulation of T. denticola ATCC 33520. It is concluded that the cell mass and proteolytic activity of T. denticola ATCC 33520 are modulated by the growth rate and the pH and to a lesser extend by the redox potential and presence of O2. Stagnation of the exudate-flow influences these factors and will lead to an increase of the spirochetal population and proteolysis in the periodontal pocket.