Infect Immun. 1978 Jan;19(1):246-53. doi: 10.1128/iai.19.1.246-253.1978.
Infection and immunity
D A Johnson, U H Behling, C H Lai, M Listgarten, S Socransky, A Nowotny
PMCID: PMC414074 DOI: 10.1128/iai.19.1.246-253.1978 Free PMC Article
The development of humoral and cell-mediated immune responses to Eikenella corrodens (a bacterium that causes periodontal lesions in gnotobiotic rats) was measured and compared with the rate of appearance of macroscopic lesions. A possible inverse relationship was found. A strong cell-mediated immune response, as measured by skin reactivity and lymphocyte mitogenesis, occurred between 4 and 6 weeks after infection and subsided soon thereafter to a low response level. Humoral antibodies to endotoxin from E. corrodens could not be detected at any time. The disease developed only after the cell-mediated immune response diminished, thus suggesting that lack of an efficient immune response may permit the development of the disease. This is seemingly in contradiction to the assumption that tissue destruction in such cases is caused by the immune response and its products. We are inclined to believe, based on our findings reported here, that the lack of immune responsiveness to the bacterium and/or its products is the major causative factor in the development of periodontitis. At the same time, we wish to emphasize that occurrence of both phenomena during the long development of periodontal disease is possible.