Porphyromonas gingivalis, a gram-negative anaerobe, is implicated in the etiology of adult periodontitis. P. gingivalis fimbriae are one of several critical surface virulence factors involved in both bacterial adherence and inflammation. P. gingivalis fimbrillin (FimA), the major subunit protein of fimbriae, is considered an important antigen for vaccine development against P. gingivalis-associated periodontitis. We have previously shown that biologically active domains of P. gingivalis fimbrillin can be expressed on the surface of the human commensal bacterium Streptococcus gordonii. In this study, we examined the effects of oral coimmunization of germfree rats with two S. gordonii recombinants expressing N (residues 55 to 145)- and C (residues 226 to 337)-terminal epitopes of P. gingivalis FimA to elicit FimA-specific immune responses. The effectiveness of immunization in protecting against alveolar bone loss following P. gingivalis infection was also evaluated. The results of this study show that the oral delivery of P. gingivalis FimA epitopes via S. gordonii vectors resulted in the induction of FimA-specific serum (immunoglobulin G [IgG] and IgA) and salivary (IgA) antibody responses and that the immune responses were protective against subsequent P. gingivalis-induced alveolar bone loss. These results support the potential usefulness of the S. gordonii vectors expressing P. gingivalis fimbrillin as a mucosal vaccine against adult periodontitis
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