Lipoprotein modifications by gingipains of Porphyromonas gingivalis

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Background and Objective

Several studies have shown an association between periodontitis and cardiovascular disease (CVD). Atherosclerosis is the major cause of CVD, and a key event in the development of atherosclerosis is accumulation of lipoproteins within the arterial wall. Bacteria are the primary etiologic agents in periodontitis and Porphyromonas gingivalis is the major pathogen in the disease. Several studies support a role of modified low-density lipoprotein (LDL) in atherogenesis; however, the pathogenic stimuli that induce the changes and the mechanisms by which this occur are unknown. This study aims to identify alterations in plasma lipoproteins induced by the periodontopathic species of bacterium, P. gingivalis, in vitro.

Material and Methods

Plasma lipoproteins were isolated from whole blood treated with wild-type and gingipain-mutant (lacking either the Rgp- or Kgp gingipains) P. gingivalis by density/gradient-ultracentrifugation and were studied using 2-dimensional gel electrophoresis followed by matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization mass spectrometry. Porphyromonas gingivalis-induced lipid peroxidation and antioxidant levels were measured by thiobarbituric acid-reactive substances and antioxidant assay kits, respectively, and lumiaggregometry was used for measurement of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and aggregation.


Porphyromonas gingivalis exerted substantial proteolytic effects on the lipoproteins. The Rgp gingipains were responsible for producing 2 apoE fragments, as well as 2 apoB-100 fragments, in LDL, and the Kgp gingipain produced an unidentified fragment in high-density lipoproteins. Porphyromonas gingivalis and its different gingipain variants induced ROS and consumed antioxidants. Both the Rgp and Kgp gingipains were involved in inducing lipid peroxidation.


Porphyromonas gingivalis has the potential to change the expression of lipoproteins in blood, which may represent a crucial link between periodontitis and CVD.

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