Although periodontal treatment by scaling and root planing (SCRP) is known to induce bacteremia, the effect of this procedure on the host immune response is not known. We have determined pre- and post-SCRP immunoglobulin G antibody titers to antigens of Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans in the sera of 22 patients with rapidly progressive periodontitis. We also assessed the ability of these sera to enhance phagocytosis and killing of A. actinomycetemcomitans by human polymorphonuclear leukocytes by using a polymorphonuclear leukocyte chemiluminescence (CL) assay. Specific anti-A. actinomycetemcomitans antibody titers were significantly increased at 6 and 12 months after beginning treatment, and CL values were significantly increased at 12 months, whereas mean interproximal pocket depths were significantly decreased at 12 months after beginning treatment. When patients were classified as either seropositive (twice the median titer of control subjects; n = 10) or seronegative (n = 12), both median titers and CL values were significantly increased for the seronegative group at 6 and 12 months after treatment. In the seropositive group, only the median titer was significantly increased at 12 months. Western blot (immunoblot) patterns for six seronegative and six seropositive patients differed remarkably at the baseline. Before treatment, all of the seropositive patients recognized high-molecular-mass lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and a large number of protein components. Patterns were virtually unaffected by therapy. Before treatment, only one of the seronegative patients recognized the LPS smear and none reacted strongly with protein components. Following treatment, slight LPS staining was observed for five of six seronegative patients and detection of protein bands was enhanced in all cases. We conclude that treatment by SCRP induces a humoral immune response, especially in seronegative patients, and that response may play a role in the observed beneficial effects of periodontal treatment
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