Skip to main content

Smoking alters the antigenicity and infectivity of Porphyromonas gingivalis


Cigarette smokers are more susceptible to periodontal diseases and are more likely to be infected with Porphyromonas gingivalis than non-smokers. Furthermore, smoking is known to alter the expression of P. gingivalis surface components and to compromise IgG generation. The aim of this study was to evaluate if the overall IgG response to P. gingivalis is suppressed in smokers in vivo and if previously established in vitro tobacco-induced phenotypic P. gingivalis changes would be reflected in vivo.

Materials and methods

We examined the humoral response to several P. gingivalis strains as well as specific tobacco-regulated outer membrane proteins (FimA and RagB) by ELISA in biochemically-validated (salivary cotinine) smokers and non-smokers with chronic (CP, n = 13) or aggressive (AP, n = 20) periodontitis. We also monitored the local and systemic presence of P. gingivalis DNA by PCR.


Smoking was associated with decreased total IgG responses against clinical (10512, 5607, and 10208C; all p < 0.05) but not laboratory (ATCC 33277, W83) P. gingivalis strains. Smoking did not influence IgG produced against specific cell surface proteins, although a non-significant pattern towards increased total FimA-specific IgG in CP subjects, but not AP subjects, was observed. Seropositive smokers were more likely to be infected orally and systemically with P. gingivalis (p < 0.001), as determined by 16S RNA analysis.


Smoking alters the humoral response against P. gingivalis and may increase P. gingivalis infectivity, strengthening the evidence that mechanisms of periodontal disease progression in smokers may differ from non-smokers with the same disease classification.


This study was funded by NIDCR (R01DE019826 to DAS).

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to David A Scott.

Rights and permissions

Open Access  This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made.

The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder.

To view a copy of this licence, visit

The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated in a credit line to the data.

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Zeller, I., Hutcherson, J.A., Lamont, R.J. et al. Smoking alters the antigenicity and infectivity of Porphyromonas gingivalis. Tob. Induced Dis. 12, A14 (2014).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • DOI:


  • Periodontal Disease
  • Cotinine
  • Outer Membrane Protein
  • Porphyromonas Gingivalis
  • Systemic Presence