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Biology and pathogenesis of cytomegalovirus in periodontal disease


  • Adolfo Contreras,

  • Javier Enrique Botero,

  • Jørgen Slots


Human periodontitis is associated with a wide range of bacteria and viruses and with complex innate and adaptive immune responses. Porphyromonas gingivalis, Tannerella forsythia, Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans, Treponema denticola, cytomegalovirus and other herpesviruses are major suspected pathogens of periodontitis, and a combined herpesvirus–bacterial periodontal infection can potentially explain major clinical features of the disease. Cytomegalovirus infects periodontal macrophages and T-cells and elicits a release of interleukin-1β and tumor necrosis factor-α. These proinflammatory cytokines play an important role in the host defense against the virus, but they also have the potential to induce alveolar bone resorption and loss of periodontal ligament. Gingival fibroblasts infected with cytomegalovirus also exhibit diminished collagen production and release of an increased level of matrix metalloproteinases. This article reviews innate and adaptive immunity to cytomegalovirus and suggests that immune responses towards cytomegalovirus can play roles in controlling, as well as in exacerbating, destructive periodontal disease.