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Porphyromonas gingivalis may play an important role in the pathogenesis of periodontitis-associated rheumatoid arthritis

Key Laboratory for Oral Biomedical Engineering of Ministry of Education, School and Hospital of Stomatology, Wuhan University, 237# Luo Yu Road, Wuhan, Hubei, PR China.
Medical Hypotheses (Impact Factor: 1.15). 03/2009; 72(6):732-5. DOI: 10.1016/j.mehy.2008.12.040
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a common, systemic autoimmune disease which leads to destruction of the joint architecture and consequent disability. Although the aetiology of RA remains unknown, accumulating studies have established a strong association between RA and periodontitis (PD). Recently, anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide (anti-CCP) autoantibody and citrullinated peptide have been realized to be involved in the breaking of self-tolerance and development of autoimmune in RA. The citrullinated peptide is generated by post-translational modification (citrullination) of protein-bound arginine by peptidylarginine deiminase (PAD). Porphyromonas gingivalis(P. gingivalis), the major aetiological agent of PD and the only bacterium known to express a PAD enzyme, has been reported to be significantly associated with RA. The antibody titers to P. gingivalis are significantly increased in patients with RA and P. gingivalis antibody titers are significantly correlated with anti-CCP antibody isotypes that are specific to RA. Recent study indicates that the major synovial targets of the RA-specific anti-CCP autoantibodies are deiminated forms of the alpha- and beta- chains of fibrin. Meanwhile, it is also confirmed that bacterial PAD produced by P. gingivalis has the capacity of deiminating arginine in fibrin found in the periodontal lesion. What's more, it has been demonstrated that citrullination of HLA binding peptide causes a 100-fold increase in peptide-MHC affinity and leads to the activation CD4(+)T cells in HLA DRB1 0401 transgenic mice. Therefore, we postulate that P. gingivalis may play a crucial role in the pathogenesis of periodontitis-associated RA. P. gingivalis, which colonizes in the oral cavity, produces PAD enzyme continuously that leads to the citrullination of RA autoantigen such as fibrin in synovium joint. These PAD engendered antigens, presented in association with major histocompatibility complex (MHC) molecules by antigen-presenting cells (APC), ultimately lead to production of the anti-CCP antibody. The anti-CCP antibodies form immune complexes with citrullinated proteins, which can be bound by inflammatory cells via their Fc receptors. The roles of these immune complexes and inflammatory cells are mediated by a complex cascade involving complement activation. These mechanisms result in a release of mediators of inflammation and joint destruction ultimately leading to the onset of RA. This hypothesis reveals that oral bacterial infection may play a role in peptide citrullination which might be involved in loss of self-tolerance and development of autoimmune in RA.

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