Blackwell Publishing Journal Backfiles 1879-2005
Abstract We investigated direct and immune-cell-mediated effects of Bacteroides gingivalis on bone metabolism in vitro. Fetal mouse long-bone rudiments were cultured under aerobic conditions in the presence of (a) intact bacteria, (b) low molecular weight (MW 〈 1000) metabolic products of the bacteria, or (c) conditioned media of mouse spleen cells activated by whole bacteria. A suspension of intact bacteria, added directly to the bone culture, had no effect on bone resorption or bone formation. Low molecular weight (MW 〈 1000) excretion products of the bacteria inhibited bone resorption and transiently reduced mineralization of the diaphysis, while the growth in length of the bones was not affected. However, conditioned media of bacteria-activated spleen cells strongly enhanced bone resorption and increased osteoclast numbers in the bone culture, while inhibiting mineral formation in the diaphysis. This led to a strongly negative mineral balance. These data do not support a direct effect of either bacteria or bacterial products on bone tissue as a likely explanation for bone loss in periodontal disease. Rather, they favour the concept that the loss of bone in this disease is an indirect effect of the host response, resulting from the contact of immune cells with the bacteria. This implies that bacterial invasion of the connective tissue of the gingiva may not be a prerequisite for alveolar bone loss.
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