IL-17 is a pleiotropic cytokine produced by Th17 T cells that induces a myriad of proinflammatory mediators. However, different models of inflammation report opposite functional roles of IL-17 signal in terms of its effects on bone destruction. In the present study we determined the role of IL-17 receptor A (RA) signal in bone resorption stimulated by dentoalveolar infections. Infrabony resorptive lesions were induced by surgical pulp exposure and microbial infection of mouse molar teeth. IL-17 was strongly induced in periapical tissues in wild-type (WT) mice by 7 days after the infection but was not expressed in uninfected mice. Dentoalveolar infections of IL-17RA knockout (KO) mice demonstrated significantly increased bone destruction and more abscess formation in the apical area compared to WT mice. Infected IL-17RA KO mice exhibited significantly increased neutrophils and macrophages compared to the WT littermates at day 21, suggesting a failure of transition from acute to chronic inflammation in the IL-17RA KO mice. The expression of IL-1 (both α and β isoforms) and MIP2 were significantly up-regulated in the IL-17RA KO compared to WT mice at day 21 post infection. The development of periapical lesion in IL-17RA KO mice was significantly attenuated by neutralization of IL-1β and MIP2. Taken together, these results demonstrate that IL-17RA signal seems to be protective against infection-induced periapical inflammation and bone destruction via suppression of neutrophil and mononuclear inflammation.
Dental caries is one of the most prevalent infectious diseases in the United States, affecting approximately 80% of children and the majority of adults. Dental caries may lead to endodontic disease, where the bacterial infection progresses to the root canal system of the tooth, leading to periapical inflammation, bone erosion, severe pain, and tooth loss. Periapical inflammation may also exacerbate inflammation in other parts of the body. Although conventional clinical therapies for this disease are successful in approximately 80% of cases, there is still an urgent need for increased efficacy of treatment. In this study, we applied a novel gene-therapeutic approach using recombinant adeno-associated virus (AAV)-mediated Atp6i RNA interference (RNAi) knockdown of Atp6i/TIRC7 gene expression to simultaneously target periapical bone resorption and periapical inflammation. We found that Atp6i inhibition impaired osteoclast function in vitro and in vivo and decreased the number of T cells in the periapical lesion. Notably, AAV-mediated Atp6i/TIRC7 knockdown gene therapy reduced bacterial infection-stimulated bone resorption by 80% in the mouse model of endodontic disease. Importantly, Atp6i+/− mice with haploinsufficiency of Atp6i exhibited protection similar to that in mice with bacterial infection-stimulated bone erosion and periapical inflammation, which confirms the potential therapeutic effect of AAV-small hairpin RNA (shRNA)-Atp6i/TIRC7. Our results demonstrate that AAV-mediated Atp6i/TIRC7 knockdown in periapical tissues can inhibit endodontic disease development, bone resorption, and inflammation, indicating for the first time that this potential gene therapy may significantly improve the health of those who suffer from endodontic disease.
Periodontal disease affects about 80% of adults in America, and is characterized by oral bacterial infection-induced gingival inflammation, oral bone resorption, and tooth loss. Periodontitis is also associated with other diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, and heart disease. Although many efforts have been made to develop effective therapies for this disease, none have been very effective and there is still an urgent need for better treatments and preventative strategies. Herein we explored for the first time the possibility that adeno-associated virus (AAV)-mediated RNAi knockdown could be used to treat periodontal disease with improved efficacy. For this purpose, we used AAV-mediated RNAi knockdown of Atp6i/TIRC7 gene expression to target bone resorption and gingival inflammation simultaneously. Mice were infected with the oral pathogen Porphyromonas gingivalis W50 (P. gingivalis) in the maxillary periodontium to induce periodontitis. We found that Atp6i depletion impaired extracellular acidification and osteoclast-mediated bone resorption. Furthermore, local injection of AAV-shRNA-Atp6i/TIRC7 into the periodontal tissues in vivo protected mice from P. gingivalis infection-stimulated bone resorption by >85% and decreased the T-cell number in periodontal tissues. Notably, AAV-mediated Atp6i/TIRC7 knockdown also reduced the expression of osteoclast marker genes and inflammation-induced cytokine genes. Atp6i+/− mice with haploinsufficiency were similarly protected from P. gingivalis infection-stimulated bone loss and gingival inflammation. This suggests that AAV-shRNA-Atp6i/TIRC7 therapeutic treatment may significantly improve the health of millions who suffer from P. gingivalis-mediated periodontal disease.
In previous studies we showed that biasing the immune response to Porphyromonas gingivalis antigens to the Th1 phenotype increases inflammatory bone resorption caused by this organism. Using a T cell screening strategy we identified eight P. gingivalis genes coding for proteins that appear to be involved in T-helper cell responses. In the present study we characterized the protein, encoded by PG_1841 gene and evaluated its relevance in the in bone resorption caused by P. gingivalis because subcutaneous infection of mice with this organism resulted in the induction of Th1 biased response to the recombinant PG1841 antigen molecule. Using an immunization regime that strongly biases toward the Th1 phenotype followed by challenge with P. gingivalis in dental pulp tissue, we demonstrate that mice pre-immunized with rPG1841 developed severe bone loss compared with control immunized mice. Pre-immunization of mice with the antigen using a Th2 biasing regime resulted in no exacerbation of the disease.
These results support the notion that selected antigens of P. gingivalis are involved in a biased Th1 host response that leads to the severe bone loss caused by this oral pathogen.
Significant progress has been made in studies of the mechanisms by which RANKL induces terminal osteoclast differentiation. However, many crucial details in the RANKL-evoked signaling pathway for osteoclast differentiation remain to be defined. We characterized genes specifically expressed in osteoclasts by differential screening of a human osteoclastoma cDNA library, and found that the regulator of G-protein signaling 10A (RGS10A), but not the RGS10B isoform, was specifically expressed in human osteoclasts. The expression of RGS10A is also induced by RANKL in osteoclast precursors and is prominently expressed in mouse osteoclast-like cells. RGS10A silencing by RNA interference blocked intracellular [Ca2+]i oscillations, the expression of NFAT2, and osteoclast terminal differentiation in both bone marrow cells and osteoclast precursor cell lines. Reintroduction of RGS10A rescued the impaired osteoclast differentiation. RGS10A silencing also resulted in premature osteoclast apoptosis. RGS10A silencing affected the RANKL-[Ca2+]i oscillation-NFAT2 signaling pathway but not other RANKL-induced responses. Our data demonstrate that target components of RGS10A are distinct from those of RGS12 in the RANKL signaling mechanism. Our results thus show the specificity of RGS10A as a key component in the RANKL-evoked signaling pathway for osteoclast differentiation, which may present a promising target for therapeutic intervention.
Differential screening; RGS10 RNA interference; [Ca2+]i oscillations; Osteoclast differentiation; RANKL signaling pathway
The present study investigated if T-cells infiltrating the periapical lesion produce RANKL and whether bacteria infecting the root canal can activate T-cells to produce RANKL.
Using a mouse model of periapical lesion induced by artificial dental pulp exposure, the presence of RANKL-positive T-cells and osteoclasts in the periapical lesion was examined by an immuno-histochemical approach. The bacteria colonizing the exposed root canal were identified by 16S ribosomal RNA (rRNA) sequence analysis. The isolated endodontic bacteria were further immunized to normal mice, and sRANKL production by the T-cells isolated from the immunized mice was evaluated by ex vivo culture system.
RANKL-positive T-cells, along with TARP+ osteoclasts, were identified in periapical bone resorption lesions. The Gram-negative bacterium Pasterurella pnumotropica (P. pnumotropica), which was most frequently detected from root canal of exposed pulp, showed remarkably elevated serum IgG antibody response in pulp-exposed mice compared to control non-treated mice. Immunization of mice with P. pneumotropica induced not only serum IgG antibody but also primed bacteria reactive T-cells that produced sRANKL in response to ex vivo exposure to P. pneumotropica.
T-cells infiltrating the periapical region express RANKL, and the endodontic bacteria colonizing the root canal appear to induce RANKL expression from bacteria-reactive T-cells, suggesting the possible pathogenic engagement of immune response to endodontic bacteria in the context of developing boneresorptive periapical lesions.
Tetracycline antibiotics, including Doxycycline (DOX), have been used to treat bone resorptive diseases, partially because of their activity to suppress osteoclastogenesis induced by receptor activator of nuclear factor kappa B ligand (RANKL). However, their precise inhibitory mechanism remains unclear. Therefore, the present study examined the effect of Dox on osteoclastogenesis signaling induced by RANKL, both in vitro and in vivo. Although Dox inhibited RANKL-induced osteoclastogenesis and down-modulated the mRNA expression of functional osteoclast markers, including tartrate-resistant acid phosphatase (TRAP) and cathepsin K, Dox neither affected RANKL-induced MAPKs phosphorylation nor NFATc1 gene expression in RAW264.7 murine monocytic cells. Gelatin zymography and Western blot analyses showed that Dox down-regulated the enzyme activity of RANKL-induced MMP-9, but without affecting its protein expression. Furthermore, MMP-9 enzyme inhibitor also attenuated both RANKL-induced osteoclastogenesis and up-regulation of TRAP and cathepsin K mRNA expression, indicating that MMP-9 enzyme action is engaged in the promotion of RANKL-induced osteoclstogenesis. Finally, Dox treatment abrogated RANKL-induced osteoclastogenesis and TRAP activity in mouse calvaria along with the suppression of MMP9 enzyme activity, again without affecting the expression of MMP9 protein. These findings suggested that Dox inhibits RANKL-induced osteoclastogenesis by its inhibitory effect on MMP-9 enzyme activity independent of the MAPK-NFATc1 signaling cascade.
Doxycycline; Osteoclast; RANK ligand; MMP-9; MAPKs; NFATc1
This report is a further analysis of a study designed to determine clinical and microbial risk indicators for progressing periodontitis.
MATERIAL AND METHODS
One hundred and ninety subjects periodontally healthy or adults with early signs of periodontitis (20–40 years) were monitored clinically at 6-month intervals followed by supragingival cleaning. At each visit, GCF and blood were collected for determination of IL-1β content (GCF) and IL-1 genotype (blood). Inter-proximal sites with >1.5 mm increase in clinical attachment over 18 months were considered disease active. Characteristics were compared between active and inactive subjects.
IL-1β levels in GCF increased with severity of disease and correlated well with clinical signs of incipient disease. However, IL-1 genotype did not show any significant associations with disease or extent of disease.
Indicators of inflammation may be important clinical determinants of future periodontal disease progression, but IL-1 genotype was not a risk indictor for early (slight) periodontitis as defined in this subject population.
genotype; gingival crevicular fluid; health; Periodontitis; race/ethnicity smoking
Spinal cord injury is associated with rapid bone loss and arrested long bone growth due to mechanisms that are poorly understood. In this study, we sought to determine the effects of severe T10 contusion spinal cord injury on the sublesional bone microenvironment in adolescent rats. A severe lower thoracic (vertebral T10) spinal cord injury was generated by weight drop (10 g×50 mm). Severely injured and body weight-matched uninjured male Sprague–Dawley rats were studied. At 3 and 5 days post-injury, we performed histological analysis of the distal femoral metaphysis, TUNEL assay, immunohistochemistry, real-time PCR, and western blot analysis compared to uninjured controls. We observed severe hindlimb functional deficits typical of this model. We detected uncoupled remodeling with increased osteoclast activity in the absence of osteoblast activity. We detected osteoblast, osteocyte, and chondrocyte apoptosis with suppressed osteoblast and chondrocyte proliferation and growth plate arrest due to spinal cord injury. We also detected altered gene expression in both whole bone extracts and bone marrow monocytes following spinal cord injury. We conclude that spinal cord injury results in altered gene expression of key regulators of osteoblast and chondrocyte activity. This leads to premature cellular apoptosis, suppressed cellular proliferation, growth plate arrest, and uncoupled bone remodeling in sublesional bone with unopposed osteoclastic resorption.
Rehabilitation medicine; Spinal cord injury; Osteoporosis; Osteoblast; Chondrocyte
To evaluate the anti-microbial effects of photodynamic therapy (PDT) on infected human teeth ex vivo.
Materials and Methods
Fifty-two freshly extracted teeth with pulpal necrosis and associated periradicular radiolucencies were obtained from 34 subjects. Twenty-six teeth with 49 canals received chemomechanical debridement (CMD) with 6% NaOCl and twenty-six teeth with 52 canals received CMD plus PDT. For PDT, root canal systems were incubated with methylene blue (MB) at concentration of 50 µg/ml for 5 minutes followed by exposure to red light at 665 nm with an energy fluence of 30 J/cm2. The contents of root canals were sampled by flushing the canals at baseline and following CMD alone or CMD+PDT and were serially diluted and cultured on blood agar. Survival fractions were calculated by counting colony-forming units (CFU). Partial characterization of root canal species at baseline and following CMD alone or CMD+PDT was performed using DNA probes to a panel of 39 endodontic species in the checkerboard assay.
The Mantel-Haenszel chi-square test for treatment effects demonstrated the better performance of CMD+PDT over CMD (P=0.026). CMD+PDT significantly reduced the frequency of positive canals relative to CMD alone (P=0.0003). Following CMD+PDT, 45 of 52 canals (86.5%) had no CFU as compared to 24 of 49 canals (49%) treated with CMD (canal flush samples). The CFU reductions were similar when teeth or canals were treated as independent entities. Post-treatment detection levels for all species were markedly lower for canals treated by CMD+PDT than were for those treated by CMD alone. Bacterial species within dentinal tubules were detected in 17/22 (77.3%) and 15/29 (51.7%) of canals in the CMD and CMD+PDT group, respectively (P= 0.034).
Data indicate that PDT significantly reduces residual bacteria within the root canal system, and that PDT, if further enhanced by technical improvements, holds substantial promise as an adjunct to CMD.
Photodynamic therapy; methylene blue; endodontic disinfection; ex vivo
The central role of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in osteoclast differentiation and in bone homeostasis prompted us to characterize the redox regulatory system of osteoclasts. In this report, we describe the expression and functional characterization of PAMM, a CXXC motif–containing peroxiredoxin 2–like protein expressed in bone marrow monocytes on stimulation with M-CSF and RANKL. Expression of wild-type (but not C to G mutants of the CXXC domain) PAMM in HEK293 cells results in an increased GSH/GSSG ratio, indicating a shift toward a more reduced environment. Expression of PAMM in RAW264.7 monocytes protected cells from hydrogen peroxide–induced oxidative stress, indicating that PAMM regulates cellular redox status. RANKL stimulation of RAW 264.7 cells caused a decrease in the GSH/GSSG ratio (reflecting a complementary increase in ROS). In addition, RANKL-induced osteoclast formation requires phosphorylation and translocation of NF-κB and c-Jun. In stably transfected RAW 264.7 cells, PAMM overexpression prevented the reduction of GSH/GSSG induced by RANKL. Concurrently, PAMM expression completely abolished RANKL-induced p100 NF-κB and c-Jun activation, as well as osteoclast formation. We conclude that PAMM is a redox regulatory protein that modulates osteoclast differentiation in vitro. PAMM expression may affect bone resorption in vivo and help to maintain bone mass. Antioxid. Redox Signal. 13, 27–37.
Background and objective
18beta-glycyrrhetinic acid (GA) is a natural anti-inflammatory compound derived from licorice root extract (Glycyrrhiza glabra). The effect of GA on experimental periodontitis and its mechanism of action were determined in the present study.
Periodontitis was induced by oral infection with Porphyromonas gingivalis W83 in IL-10 deficient mice. The effect of GA, which was delivered by subcutaneous injections in either prophylactic or therapeutic regimens, on alveolar bone loss and gingival gene expressions was determined on day 42 after initial infection. The effect of GA on LPS-stimulated macrophages, T cell proliferation, and osteoclastogenesis was also examined in vitro.
GA administered either prophylactically or therapeutically dramatically reduced infection-induced bone loss in IL-10 deficient mice, which are highly disease-susceptible. Although GA has been reported to exert its anti-inflammatory activity via down-regulation of 11-beta hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase-2 (HSD2), which converts active glucocorticoids (GC) to their inactive forms, GA did not reduce HSD2 gene expression in gingival tissue. Rather, under GC-free conditions, GA potently inhibited LPS-stimulated proinflammatory cytokine production and RANKL-stimulated osteoclastogenesis, both of which are NF–κB-dependent. GA furthermore suppressed LPS- and RANKL-stimulated phosphorylation of NF–κB p105 in vitro.
These findings indicate that GA inhibits periodontitis by inactivation of NF–κB in an IL-10 and GC-independent fashion.
18beta-glycyrrhetinic acid; periodontal disease; NF–κB; IL-10 deficient mouse
T regulatory (Treg; CD4+FOXP3+) cells constitute a unique subpopulation of CD4+ T cells that inhibit T cell responses and prevent disease development/exacerbation in models of autoimmunity. In the present study, we tested the hypothesis that Treg cells are induced in periapical lesions by dental pulp infection.
In situ hybridization (ISH) was used to localize FOXP3+ cells on day 21 after pulp exposure of the 1st molar teeth and infection with bacteria from the oral environment. FOXP3/GFP knock-in transgenic mice were used to quantify FOXP3+Treg cells that infiltrate into periapical lesions by flow cytometry on days 7, 14, and 21 after infection. Periodontal ligament from uninfected teeth served as a negative control.
ISH showed strong signals that demonstrated the presence of FOXP3+ cells mainly at the periphery of periapical lesions. In contrast no positive cells were present in the periodontal ligament of uninfected controls. Flow cytometry demonstrated an increase in the number of FOXP3+ Treg beginning between day 7 and day 14 (0.69% of the infiltrate) after infection, and increased to day 21 (0.94%) (p<0.05, p<0.001 respectively vs. uninfected controls). Treg were also increased in number in draining cervical lymph nodes following pulpal infection.
These results demonstrate that Treg cells are induced to infiltrate into periapical lesions by pulpal infection, and suggest that they increase in a time-dependent manner.
T regulatory cells; periapical lesions; pulp infection; FOXP3/GFP knock-in; flow cytometry; in situ hybridization
We investigated the photodynamic effects of methylene blue (MB) on multi-species root canal biofilms comprising Actinomyces israelii, Fusobacterium nucleatum subspecies nucleatum, Porphyromonas gingivalis and Prevotella intermedia in experimentally infected root canals of extracted human teeth in vitro. The four test microorganisms were detected in root canals using DNA probes. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) showed the presence of biofilms in root canals prior to therapy. Root canal systems were incubated with MB (25 µg/ml) for 10 minutes followed by exposure to red light at 665 nm with an energy fluence of 30 J/cm2. Light was delivered from a diode laser via a 250 µm diameter polymethyl methacrylate optical fiber that uniformly distributed light at 360°. Photodynamic therapy (PDT) achieved up to 80% reduction of colony-forming unit counts. We conclude that PDT can be an effective adjunct to standard endodontic antimicrobial treatment when the PDT parameters are optimized.
Exposure of the mouse oral cavity to Porphyromonas gingivalis results in the development of gingivitis and periapical bone loss, which apparently are associated with a Th1 response to bacterial antigens. We have used this infection model in conjunction with direct T-cell expression cloning to identify bacterial antigens that induce a preferential or biased T helper response during the infectious process. A P. gingivalis-specific CD4 T-cell line derived from mice at 3 weeks postchallenge was used to directly screen a P. gingivalis genomic expression library. This screen resulted in the identification of five genes coding for previously identified proteins and three other putative protein antigens. One of the identified proteins, P. gingivalis thiol peroxidase, was studied in detail because this molecule belongs to a protein family that is apparently involved in microbial pathogenesis. Infection of mice with P. gingivalis, either via the subcutaneous route or after exposure of the animal's oral cavity to viable bacteria, resulted in the induction of a strong thiol peroxidase-specific immune response characterized by the production of high titers of specific serum immunoglobulin G2a antibody and the production of gamma interferon by antigen-stimulated lymphoid cells, a typical Th1-biased response. Thus, the use of a proven T-cell expression cloning approach and a mouse model of periodontal disease resulted in the identification and characterization of P. gingivalis proteins that might be involved in pathogenesis.
Periapical granulomas are induced by bacterial infection of the dental pulp and result in destruction of the surrounding alveolar bone. In previous studies we have reported that the bone resorption in this model is primarily mediated by macrophage-expressed interleukin-1 (IL-1). The expression and activity of IL-1 is in turn modulated by a network of Th1 and Th2 regulatory cytokines. In the present study, the functional roles of the Th1 cytokine gamma interferon (IFN-γ) and IFN-γ-inducing cytokines IL-12 and IL-18 were determined in a murine model of periapical bone destruction. IL-12−/−, IL-18−/−, and IFN-γ−/− mice were subjected to surgical pulp exposure and infection with a mixture of four endodontic pathogens, and bone destruction was determined by microcomputed tomography on day 21. The results indicated that all IL-12−/−, IL-18−/−, and IFN-γ−/− mice had similar infection-stimulated bone resorption in vivo as wild-type control mice. Mice infused with recombinant IL-12 also had resorption similar to controls. IFN-γ−/− mice exhibited significant elevations in IL-6, IL-10, IL-12, and tumor necrosis factor alpha in lesions compared to wild-type mice, but these modulations had no net effect on IL-1α levels. Recombinant IL-12, IL-18, and IFN-γ individually failed to consistently modulate macrophage IL-1α production in vitro. We conclude that, at least individually, endogenous IL-12, IL-18, and IFN-γ do not have a significant effect on the pathogenesis of infection-stimulated bone resorption in vivo, suggesting possible functional redundancy in proinflammatory pathways.
Periapical bone destruction occurs as a consequence of pulpal infection. In previous studies, we showed that interleukin-1 (IL-1) is the primary stimulator of bone destruction in this model. IL-6 is a pleiotropic cytokine that is induced in these infections and has both pro- and anti-inflammatory activities. In the present study, we determined the role of IL-6 in regulating IL-1 expression and bone resorption. The first molars of IL-6 knockouts (IL-6−/−) and wild-type mice were subjected to surgical pulp exposure and infection with a mixture of four common pulpal pathogens, including Prevotella intermedia, Fusobacterium nucleatum, Peptostreptococcus micros, and Streptococcus intermedius. Mice were killed after 21 days, and bone destruction and cytokine expression were determined. Surprisingly, bone destruction was significantly increased in IL-6−/− mice versus that in wild-type mice (by 30%; P < 0.001). In a second experiment, the effects of chronic (IL-6−/−) IL-6 deficiency and short-term IL-6 deficiency induced by in vivo antibody neutralization were determined. Both IL-6−/− (30%; P < 0.001) and anti-IL-6 antibody-treated mice (40%; P < 0.05) exhibited increased periapical bone resorption, compared to wild-type controls. The increased bone resorption in IL-6-deficient animals correlated with increases in osteoclast numbers, as well as with elevated expression of bone-resorptive cytokines IL-1α and IL-1β, in periapical lesions and with decreased expression of the anti-inflammatory cytokine IL-10. These data demonstrate that endogenous IL-6 expression has significant anti-inflammatory effects in modulating infection-stimulated bone destruction in vivo.
We have previously demonstrated that a high proportion of RAG-2 SCID knockout mice, which lack T and B cells, develop orofacial abscesses and disseminated infections following pulpal infection, whereas immunocompetent control mice do not. In the present study, we sought to identify the components of the adaptive immune response which contribute to protection against disseminating anaerobic infections and sepsis. For this purpose, various genetically engineered immunodeficient mice were employed, including RAG-2 SCID, Igh-6 (B-cell deficient), Tcrb Tcrd (T-cell deficient) and Hc0 (C5 deficient). For abscess induction, the mandibular first molars were subjected to pulp exposure on day 0. Teeth were infected with a mixture of four anaerobic pathogens, including Prevotella intermedia, Streptococcus intermedius, Fusobacterium nucleatum, and Peptostreptococcus micros, and teeth were sealed to prevent communication with the oral cavity. The findings demonstrate that both RAG-2 SCID and B-cell-deficient mice, but not T-cell- or C5-deficient mice, have increased susceptibility to the development of disseminating anaerobic infections. Abscess-susceptible RAG-2 SCID and B-cell-deficient mice also showed a significant loss of body weight, splenomegaly, and absent antibacterial antibody production. Furthermore, dissemination was significantly reduced, from 74 to 25%, in susceptible RAG-2 mice by passively transferred antibody, predominantly immunoglobulin G2b (IgG2b) and IgM, against the infecting bacterial innoculum. Fractionated IgG-enriched preparations were more efficient in transferring protection than IgM preparations. We conclude that an antibody-mediated mechanism(s), most likely bacterial opsonization, is of importance in localizing anaerobic root canal infections and in preventing their systemic spread.
C3H/HeJ mice have an impaired ability to respond to lipopolysaccharide (LPS) due to a mutation in the gene that encodes Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4). The effect of TLR4 deficiency on host responses to endodontic infections is unknown. In the present study, we compared periapical bone destruction, sepsis, and inflammatory cytokine production in LPS-hyporesponsive C3H/HeJ and wild-type control C3H/HeOuJ mice. The mandibular first molars of both strains were subjected to pulpal exposure and infection with a mixture of four anaerobic pathogens, Prevotella intermedia, Fusobacterium nucleatum, Streptococcus intermedius, and Peptostreptococcus micros. At sacrifice on day 21, TLR4-deficient C3H/HeJ mice had significantly reduced periapical bone destruction compared to wild-type C3H/HeOuJ mice (P < 0.001). The decreased bone destruction in C3H/HeJ correlated with reduced expression of the bone resorptive cytokines interleukin 1α (IL-1α) (P < 0.01) and IL-1β (P < 0.05) as well as the proinflammatory cytokine IL-12 (P < 0.05). No significant differences were seen in the levels of gamma interferon, tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α), or IL-10 between the two strains. The expression of IL-1α, IL-1β, TNF-α, IL-10, and IL-12 were all significantly reduced in vitro in macrophages from both TLR4-deficient C3H/HeJ and C57BL/10ScNCr strains, compared to wild-type controls. Notably, the responses of TLR4-deficient macrophages to both gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria were similarly reduced. Neither C3H/HeJ nor C3H/HeOuJ mice exhibited orofacial abscess development or infection dissemination as determined by splenomegaly or cachexia. We conclude that intact TLR function mediates increased proinflammatory responses and bone destruction in response to mixed anaerobic infections.