• fimbriae;
  • mouse model;
  • Porphyromonas gingivalis;
  • virulence

Background/aims: Porphyromonas gingivalis is a periodontal pathogen whose fimbriae are classified into six genotypes (types I–V and Ib) based on the diversity of the fimA genes encoding the fimbrial subunits. Accumulated evidence suggests that P. gingivalis strains with type II fimbriae are more virulent as compared to those with other types. However, it is unknown if strong virulence is uniformly conserved among clones with type II fimbriae. In the present study, we compared infectious inflammatory changes in clinical isolates of P. gingivalis with type II fimbriae using a mouse abscess model to examine their pathogenic heterogeneity and heterogeneity-related factors.

Methods:  Suspensions of nine different clinical isolates with type II fimbriae were subcutaneously injected into female BALB/c mice and inflammatory parameters, such as serum sialic acid concentration, were compared.

Results:  Many of the type II fimbrial isolates caused severe inflammation in the mice, though some were less causative, as was the control strain ATCC 33277 (type I fimbria strain). These results showed that pathogenic heterogeneity exists among P. gingivalis clones with type II fimbriae. Further, the heterogeneity-related factors of P. gingivalis strains were analyzed and the pathogenic potentials showed positive relationships to gingipain activities and invasive efficiency but not to hydrophobicity or autoaggregation. In addition, invasive efficiency was related to the activities of gingipains that were extracellularly secreted.

Conclusion:  These results suggest that pathogenic heterogeneity has relationships with the invasive and proteolytic activities of P. gingivalis clones with type II fimbriae.