Possible potentiation of toxins from Prevotella intermedia, Prevotella nigrescens, and Porphyromonas gingivalis by cotinine

N M Sayers, J A James, D B Drucker, A S Blinkhorn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: Smoking is a recognized risk factor for the initiation and progression of periodontitis. However, the mechanism by which smoking induces its negative effects on the periodontium is not clear. This study aimed to test the hypothesis that synergy may occur between cotinine and bacterial products isolated from 3 putative periodontopathogens.

METHODS: A chick embryo toxin assay was used to investigate bacterial toxins (cell-free extracellular toxins and cell-free cell lysates) from 5 species with and without cotinine. A total of 9 putative periodontopathogens (3 species) and 2 non-oral controls (2 species) were studied. The periodontal species were: Prevotella intermedia (n = 4), Prevotella nigrescens (n = 4), and Porphyromonas gingivalis (n = 1). The control species tested were: Staphylococcus aureus (n = 1) and Escherichia coli (n = 1).

RESULTS: The toxicity kill was significantly greater than expected by simple addition alone (P <0.05, Fisher's exact test) between cotinine (800 ng/ml) and 1) the cell-free extracellular toxins of P. nigrescens MH1 and 2) the cell-free cell lysates of P. intermedia MH2. Synergy occurred with cotinine plus the cell-free extracellular toxins in all but 3 periodontal isolates, and the cell-free cell lysates in all but 2 periodontal isolates. Cotinine significantly (P <0.05, Fisher's exact test) enhanced the effects of cell-free extracellular toxins and cell lysates from one control species (E. coli), but not the other (S. aureus).

CONCLUSIONS: These findings indicate that synergy in an in vitro assay can occur between cotinine and toxins from putative periodontopathogens. This may be one important mechanism by which smoking increases the severity of periodontitis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1269-75
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Periodontology
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1999


  • Animals
  • Bacterial Toxins
  • Cell-Free System
  • Chick Embryo
  • Cotinine
  • Drug Synergism
  • Endotoxins
  • Periodontitis
  • Porphyromonas gingivalis
  • Prevotella
  • Prevotella intermedia
  • Toxicity Tests
  • Virulence


Dive into the research topics of 'Possible potentiation of toxins from Prevotella intermedia, Prevotella nigrescens, and Porphyromonas gingivalis by cotinine'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this