Years of human microbiome research have confirmed that microbes rarely live or function alone, favoring diverse communities. Yet most experimental host-pathogen studies employ single species models of infection. Here, the influence of three-species oral microbial consortium on growth, virulence, invasion and persistence in dendritic cells (DCs) was examined experimentally in human monocyte-derived dendritic cells (DCs) and in patients with periodontitis (PD). Cooperative biofilm formation by Streptococcus gordonii, Fusobacterium nucleatum and Porphyromonas gingivalis was documented in vitro using growth models and scanning electron microscopy. Analysis of growth rates by species-specific 16s rRNA probes revealed distinct, early advantages to consortium growth for S. gordonii and F. nucleatum with P. gingivalis, while P. gingivalis upregulated its short mfa1 fimbriae, leading to increased invasion of DCs. F. nucleatum was only taken up by DCs when in consortium with P. gingivalis. Mature consortium regressed DC maturation upon uptake, as determined by flow cytometry. Analysis of dental plaques of PD and healthy subjects by 16s rRNA confirmed oral colonization with consortium members, but DC hematogenous spread was limited to P. gingivalis and F. nucleatum. Expression of P. gingivalis mfa1 fimbriae was increased in dental plaques and hematogenous DCs of PD patients. P. gingivalis in the consortium correlated with an adverse clinical response in the gingiva of PD subjects. In conclusion, we have identified polymicrobial synergy in a three-species oral consortium that may have negative consequences for the host, including microbial dissemination and adverse peripheral inflammatory responses.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology