Activation of invariant NK T cells in periodontitis lesions

Michael Nowak, Benjamin Krämer, Manuela Haupt, Panos N. Papapanou, Justus Kebschull, Per Hoffmann, Ingo G. Schmidt-Wolf, Søren Jepsen, Peter Brossart, Sven Perner, Moritz Kebschull

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Periodontitis is one of the most prevalent human inflammatory diseases. The major clinical phenotypes of this polymicrobial, biofilm-mediated disease are chronic and aggressive periodontitis, the latter being characterized by a rapid course of destruction that is generally attributed to an altered immune-inflammatory response against periodontal pathogens. Still, the biological basis for the pathophysiological distinction of the two disease categories has not been well documented yet. Type I NKT cells are a lymphocyte subset with important roles in regulating immune responses to either tolerance or immunity, including immune responses against bacterial pathogens. In this study, we delineate the mechanisms of NKT cell activation in periodontal infections. We show an infiltration of type I NKT cells in aggressive, but not chronic, periodontitis lesions in vivo. Murine dendritic cells infected with aggressive periodontitis-associated Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans triggered a type I IFN response followed by type I NKT cell activation. In contrast, infection with Porphyromonas gingivalis, a principal pathogen in chronic periodontitis, did not induce NKT cell activation. This difference could be explained by the absence of a type I IFN response to P. gingivalis infection. We found these IFNs to be critical for NKT cell activation. Our study provides a conceivable biological distinction between the two periodontitis subforms and identifies factors required for the activation of the immune system in response to periodontal bacteria.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2282-2291
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 1 2013
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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