Antigen capture of Porphyromonas gingivalis by human macrophages is enhanced but killing and antigen presentation are reduced by endotoxin tolerance

Manoj Muthukuru, Christopher W. Cutler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


The innate and the adaptive arms of the mucosal immune system must be coordinated to facilitate the control of pathogenic invasion while maintaining immune homeostasis. Toll-like receptors, able to activate the cell to produce bactericidal and inflammatory cytokines but also able to upregulate antigen (Ag)-presenting and costimulatory molecules, are particularly important in this regard. We have previously shown that the chronically infected oral mucosa is in a state of endotoxin tolerance, as evidenced by the downregulation of Toll-like receptors 2 and 4 and of inflammatory cytokines and the upregulation of SH2-containing inositol phosphatase, an inhibitor of NF-κB signaling. In the present study, we hypothesized that endotoxin tolerance would influence the ability of human macrophages to engage in Ag capture and killing of the oral pathogen Porphyromonas gingivalis and to upregulate costimulatory molecules and stimulate autologous T-cell proliferation. We show that uptake, but not killing, of P. gingivalis 381 is enhanced by endotoxin tolerance. Reduced killing is possibly due to a reduction of the intracellular lysosomes. We further show that the expression of the Ag-presenting molecule HLA-DR and costimulatory molecules CD40 and CD86 is dampened by endotoxin tolerance to the constitutive level. This, along with our previous evidence for reduction in immunostimulatory cytokines, is consistent with the observed decrease in the induction of autologous CD4+ T-cell proliferation by endotoxin-tolerized macrophages. Overall, these studies suggest that endotoxin tolerance, as observed in the inflamed oral mucosa, potentiates the innate Ag capture activity of macrophages but diminishes the potential of human macrophages to initiate the adaptive immune response. In conclusion, endotoxin tolerance, while helpful in bacterial clearance and in surmounting excessive inflammatory tissue damage, could potentially reduce the (protective) adaptive immune response during chronic infections such as periodontitis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)477-485
Number of pages9
JournalInfection and Immunity
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2008
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Infectious Diseases


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