Endodontic infections are very prevalent and have a polymicrobial etiology characterized by complex interrelationships between endodontic microorganisms and the host defenses. Proteomic analysis of endodontic infections can provide global insights into the invasion, pathogenicity mechanisms, and multifactorial interactions existing between root canal bacteria and the host in the initiation and progression of apical periodontitis. The purpose of this study was to apply proteomic techniques such as liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry (LC–MS/MS) for the identification of proteins of bacterial origin present in endodontic infections.
Endodontic specimens were aseptically obtained from seven patients with root canal infections. Protein mixtures were subjected to tryptic in-solution digestion and analysed by reverse-phase nano-LC–MS/MS followed by a database search.
Proteins, mainly of cell wall or membrane origin, from endodontic bacteria especially Enterococcus faecalis, Enterococcus faecium, Porphyromonas gingivalis, Fusobacterium nucleatum, and Treponema denticola were identified from all the samples tested. Identified proteins included adhesins, autolysins, proteases, virulence factors, and antibiotic-resistance proteins.
LC–MS/MS offers a sensitive analytical platform to study the disease processes in the root canal environment. The array of proteins expressed in endodontic infections reflects the complex microbial presence and highlights the bacterial species involved in the inflammatory process.