Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans as an early colonizer of oral tissues: Epithelium as a reservoir?

Daniel H. Fine, Kenneth Markowitz, David Furgang, Kabilan Velliyagounder

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29 Scopus citations


This study examined in vivo and in vitro colonization by Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans, an organism highly associated with aggressive periodontitis. Thirteen volunteers (5 were A. actinomycetemcomitans positive for buccal epithelial cells [BECs] and teeth, 5 were A. actinomycetemcomitans positive for teeth only, and 3 were A. actinomycetemcomitans-negative controls) had two mandibular stents fabricated. Each stent contained 3 removable hydroxyapatite (HA) tooth surrogates. One HA square was removed from a stent at 5 time points over 7 h to assess the transfer of A. actinomycetemcomitans from teeth or BECs to HA. Streptococcus, Actinomyces, A. actinomycetemcomitans, and total anaerobic counts were evaluated on each square over time. In vitro experiments evaluated binding, desorption, transfer, and reattachment of A. actinomycetemcomitans wild-type and mutant strains to BECs and saliva-coated HA (SHA). Streptococcus and Actinomyces formed 80% of the cultivable flora on HA in all subjects. Transfer of A. actinomycetemcomitans to HA was not seen in subjects with A. actinomycetemcomitans on teeth only. All 5 subjects with A. actinomycetemcomitans on BECs showed transfer of A. actinomycetemcomitans to HA. In vitro, A. actinomycetemcomitans desorbed from BECs and transferred to SHA. A. actinomycetemcomitans binding to SHA was irreversible and did not transfer to BECs. The adhesin Aae showed specificity for BECs. Fimbrial mutants showed the greatest reduction in binding to SHA. A. actinomycetemcomitans migrated from BECs to HA in vivo and to SHA in vitro; however, A. actinomycetemcomitans movement from teeth and SHA to BECs did not occur. In vivo, A. actinomycetemcomitans colonized HA within 6 h and thus can be considered an early colonizer. BECs are a likely reservoir for A. actinomycetemcomitans tooth colonization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4464-4473
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of clinical microbiology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Microbiology (medical)

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