Porphyromonas gingivalis, Bacteroides forsythus and other putative periodontal pathogens in subjects with and without periodontal destruction

AJ van Winkelhoff*, BG Loos, WA van der Reijden, U van der Velden

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

274 Citations (Scopus)


Background and aims: Bacteria play an essential role in the pathogenesis of destructive periodontal disease. It has been suggested that not all bacteria associated with periodontitis may be normal inhabitants of a periodontally healthy dentition. In particular, Porphyromonas gingivalis and Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans have been isolated infrequently from subjects without periodontitis. The aim of the present study was to compare prevalence and proportions of a number of periodontal bacteria in periodontitis patients and control subjects.

Material and methods: In all, 116 consecutive subjects diagnosed with moderate to severe periodontitis (mean age 42.4) and 94 subjects without radiographic evidence of alveolar bone loss (mean age 40.4) were recruited for the study. The gingival condition in the control group varied between gingival health and various degrees of gingivitis. In patients, the deepest pocket in each quadrant was selected for microbiological sampling. In control subjects all mesial and distal sites of all first molars were selected for sampling. All paper points from a patient were pooled and processed for anaerobic cultivation within 6 h after sampling. Clinical variables of sampled sites included bleeding index, probing pocket depth and clinical attachment level.

Results: A. actinomycetemcomitans, P. gingivalis, Prevotella intermedia, Bacteroides forsythus, Fusobacterium nucleatum and Peptostreptococcus micros were significantly more often prevalent in patients than in controls. The highest odds ratios were found for P. gingivalis and B. forsythus (12.3 and 10.4 resp.). Other odds ratios varied from 3.1 to 7.7 for A. actinomycetemcomitans and P. micros , respectively. Absolute numbers of target bacteria were all higher in patients, but only the mean percentage of B. forsythus was significantly higher in patients in comparison to controls (P <0.001).

Conclusions: A. actinomycetemcomitans, P. gingivalis, P. intermedia, B. forsythus, F. nucleatum and P. micros are all significant markers for destructive periodontal disease in adult subjects. Based on calculated odds ratios, B. forsythus and P. gingivalis are the strongest bacterial markers for this disease and are infrequently cultured from subjects without periodontal bone loss.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1023-1028
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Clinical Periodontology
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov-2002


  • bateria
  • periodontics
  • P. gingivalis
  • periodontal health

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