Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans is an oral bacterium associated with aggressive forms of periodontitis. Increasing evidence points to a link between periodontitis and cardiovascular diseases, however, the underlying mechanisms are poorly understood. This study investigated the pathogenic potential of free-soluble surface material, released from live planktonic and biofilm A. actinomycetemcomitans cells.
By employing an ex vivo insert model (filter pore size 20 nm) we demonstrated that the A. actinomycetemcomitans strain D7S and its derivatives, in both planktonic and in biofilm life-form, released free-soluble surface material independent of outer membrane vesicles. This material clearly enhanced the production of several proinflammatory cytokines (IL-1β, TNF-α, IL-6, IL-8, MIP-1β) in human whole blood, as evidenced by using a cytokine antibody array and dissociation-enhanced-lanthanide-fluorescent-immunoassay. In agreement with this, quantitative real-time PCR indicated a concomitant increase in transcription of each of these cytokine genes. Experiments in which the LPS activity was blocked with polymyxin B showed that the stimulatory effect was only partly LPS-dependent, suggesting the involvement of additional free-soluble factors. Consistent with this, MALDI-TOF-MS and immunoblotting revealed release of GroEL-like protein in free-soluble form. Conversely, the immunomodulatory toxins, cytolethal distending toxin and leukotoxin, and peptidoglycan-associated lipoprotein, appeared to be less important, as evidenced by studying strain D7S cdt/ltx double, and pal single mutants. In addition to A. actinomycetemcomitans a non-oral species, Escherichia coli strain IHE3034, tested in the same ex vivo model also released free-soluble surface material with proinflammatory activity.
A. actinomycetemcomitans, grown in biofilm and planktonic form, releases free-soluble surface material independent of outer membrane vesicles, which induces proinflammatory responses in human whole blood. Our findings therefore suggest that release of surface components from live bacterial cells could constitute a mechanism for systemic stimulation and be of particular importance in chronic localized infections, such as periodontitis.