Purpose of review
This article reviews the link between periodontitis and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) with regard to similarities in genetic risk factors and immunopathogenesis. Emphasis is paid to the potential role of the periodontal pathogen Porphyromonas gingivalis in the etiopathogenesis of both periodontitis and RA, in particular by post-translational modification of arginine into citrulline.
P. gingivalis, a major periodontal pathogen, is presently known as the only bacterium in the oral flora which contains a peptidyl arginine deiminase enzyme (PAD). This enzyme is necessary for citrullination. As a result, citrullinated proteins and P. gingivalis PAD, PAD2 and PAD4 (expressed by infiltrating neutrophils) are found in periodontal tissues. Autoantibodies directed to citrullinated proteins, so-called anticitrullinated protein antibodies (ACPAs), are found to be present in gingival crevicular fluid originating from inflamed gingival tissue. Furthermore, treatment studies have revealed that nonsurgical periodontal treatment, that is removal of sub-gingival calculus and biofilm deposits, is accompanied by a reduction in the severity of RA.
In this study the similarities in immune response and tissue degradation between RA and periodontitis are reviewed. It is shown that the two diseases share the same environmental and genetic risk factors, apart from the fact that there is a link between both diseases via citrullination of proteins by human PAD and P. gingivalis PAD.