Accumulating evidence indicates that periodontal disease is associated with human cardiovascular diseases. The periodontal pathogen Porphyromonas gingivalis was shown to be present in atherosclerotic plaques in addition to periodontal pockets. This bacterium is known to produce two individual cysteine proteinases, Arggingipain (Rgp) and Lysgingipain (Kgp). Here we show that these two enzymes are responsible for either the disruption of cytokine responses in human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVEC) to the bacterium infection or the loss of cell viability. The expression of interleukin-8 and monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 mRNA in HUVEC was greatly induced when infected with the wildtype strain, nevertheless, their protein levels in the culture medium were markedly decreased. This decrease was completely abolished in the cells infected with the Rgp/Kgpnull mutant, but not in either the Rgp or Kgpnull mutants. Loss of the adhesion activity and viability of HUVEC were greatly induced by the culture supernatant of the wildtype strain and strongly inhibited by either a combination of the Rgp and the Kgpspecific inhibitors or the deficiency of the Rgp and Kgpencoding genes. These findings indicate that P. gingivalis modulates the cytokine response in the cells and disrupts the adhesion activity and the viability through the cooperative action of Rgp and Kgp and thereby may contribute to pathogenesis of cardiovascular diseases as well as periodontal disease.
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