Activation of the innate immune system by Treponema denticola periplasmic flagella through Toll-like receptor 2

Academic Article


  • Treponema denticola is an indigenous oral spirochete that inhabits the gingival sulcus or periodontal pocket. Increased numbers of oral treponemes within this environment are associated with localized periodontal inflammation, and they are also part of an anaerobic polymicrobial consortium responsible for endodontic infections. Previous studies have indicated that T. denticola stimulates the innate immune system through Toll-like receptor 2 (TLR2); however, the pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs) responsible for T. denticola activation of the innate immune system are currently not well defined. In this study, we investigated the role played by T. denticola periplasmic flagella (PF), unique motility organelles of spirochetes, in stimulating an innate immune response. Wild-type T. denticola stimulated the production of the cytokines tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α), interleukin-1β (IL-1β), IL-6, IL-10, and IL-12 by monocytes from human peripheral blood mononuclear cells, while its isogenic nonmotile mutant lacking PF resulted in significantly diminished cytokine stimulation. In addition, highly purified PF were able to dose dependently stimulate cytokine TNF-α, IL-1β, IL-6, IL-10, and IL-12 production in human monocytes. Wild-type T. denticola and the purified PF triggered activation of NF-κB through TLR2, as determined using a variety of TLR-transfected human embryonic 293 cell lines, while the PF-deficient mutants lacked the ability to stimulate, and the complemented PF-positive T. denticola strain restored the activation. These findings suggest that T. denticola stimulates the innate immune system in a TLR2-dependent fashion and that PF are a key bacterial component involved in this process.
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    Author List

  • Ruby J; Martin M; Passineau MJ; Godovikova V; Fenno JC; Wu H
  • Volume

  • 86
  • Issue

  • 1