• Archaea;
  • Methanobrevibacter oralis;
  • periodontitis


There is controversy regarding the existence of archaeal pathogens. Periodontitis is one of the human diseases in which Archaea have been suggested to have roles as pathogens. This study was performed to investigate the distribution of Archaea in Japanese patients with periodontitis and to examine the serum IgG responses to archaeal components. Subgingival plaque samples were collected from 111 periodontal pockets of 49 patients (17 with aggressive periodontitis and 32 with chronic periodontitis), and 30 subgingival plaque samples were collected from 17 healthy subjects. By PCR targeting the 16S rRNA gene, Archaea were detected in 15 plaque samples (13.5% of total samples) from 11 patients (29.4% of patients with aggressive periodontitis and 18.8% of patients with chronic periodontitis). Archaea were detected mostly (14/15) in severe diseased sites (pocket depth ≥6 mm), while no amplicons were observed in any samples from healthy controls. Sequence analysis of the PCR products revealed that the majority of Archaea in periodontal pockets were a Methanobrevibacter oralis-like phylotype. Western immunoblotting detected IgG antibodies against M. oralis in eight of the 11 sera from patients. These results suggest the potential of Archaea (M. oralis) as an antigenic pathogen of periodontitis.