Background and Objective: Periodontitis results from interplay between genetic and environmental factors. Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the coding region of the toll-like receptor 4 gene (TLR4) may be associated with periodontitis, although previous studies have been inconclusive. Moreover, the interaction between environmental factors, such as cigarette smoking (a major risk factor for periodontitis), and Porphyromonas gingivalis (a major periodontal pathogen) with the TLR4 coding region Asp299Gly SNP (rs4986790; a SNP associated with lipopolysaccharide-mediated inflammatory responses in periodontitis), have been largely ignored in previous reports. Therefore, the objective of this study was to examine the association between TLR4 Asp299Gly (rs4986790) with alveolar bone height loss (ABHL) and periodontitis, accounting for interactions between this SNP with smoking and P. gingivalis prevalence. The CD14/-260 SNP (rs2569190) served as a control, as a recent meta-analysis suggested no relationship between this SNP and periodontitis. Material and Methods: This multicenter study included 617 participants who had rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis. This report presents a secondary outcome from the primary case-control study examining the relationship of periodontitis with established rheumatoid arthritis. The Centers for Disease Control/American Academy of Periodontology case definitions of periodontitis were used for this analysis. Participants received a full-mouth clinical periodontal examination and panoramic radiograph. Percentage ABHL was measured on posterior teeth. The TLR4 Asp299Gly and CD14/-260 SNPs were selected a priori and genotypes were determined using the ImmunoChip array (Illumina®). Minor allele frequencies and associations with periodontitis and ABHL did not differ according to rheumatoid arthritis vs. osteoarthritis status; therefore, data from these two groups were pooled. The presence of P. gingivalis was detected in subgingival plaque by PCR. Multivariate ordinal logistic regression examined associations between the SNPs and periodontitis or ABHL. SNP interactions with smoking and P. gingivalis were analyzed. Results: A significant, negative interaction was observed between the TLR4 SNP and the presence of P. gingivalis (p = 0.045) with respect to periodontitis. The TLR4 minor variant was also associated with less ABHL: 16.8% of individuals with low ABHL, 9.0% with moderate ABHL and 11.2% with high ABHL had the minor allele [p = 0.029; odds ratio = 0.58 (95% confidence interval: 0.36-0.95)]. The interaction between the TLR4 SNP and smoking was not significant with respect to periodontitis or ABHL. The CD14 SNP was not associated with periodontitis or ABHL. Conclusion: The TLR4 Asp299Gly SNP significantly interacted with P. gingivalis in conferring a decreased risk of periodontitis and may be protective against ABHL, a feature of periodontitis. Agents blocking TLR4 signaling, a strategy currently under investigation for the treatment of other inflammatory conditions, may warrant investigation in the context of periodontitis related to the presence of P. gingivalis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)203-211
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Periodontal Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2016


  • Alveolar bone loss
  • Cluster of differentiation (CD) antigens
  • Periodontitis
  • Porphyromonas gingivalis
  • Single nucleotide polymorphism
  • Toll-like receptors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Periodontics


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