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Open AccessReview

T and B Cells in Periodontal Disease: New Functions in A Complex Scenario

School of Dentistry and Oral Health, Griffith University, Queensland 4222, Australia
Menzies Health Institute Queensland, Griffith University, Gold Coast, QLD 4222, Australia
Division of Oral Diseases, Department of Dental Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, 141 04 Stockholm, Sweden
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2019, 20(16), 3949;
Received: 29 July 2019 / Revised: 9 August 2019 / Accepted: 13 August 2019 / Published: 14 August 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Oral Inflammations and Systemic Diseases)
PDF [725 KB, uploaded 14 August 2019]


Periodontal disease is characterised by a dense inflammatory infiltrate in the connective tissue. When the resolution is not achieved, the activation of T and B cells is crucial in controlling chronic inflammation through constitutive cytokine secretion and modulation of osteoclastogenesis. The present narrative review aims to overview the recent findings of the importance of T and B cell subsets, as well as their cytokine expression, in the pathogenesis of the periodontal disease. T regulatory (Treg), CD8+ T, and tissue-resident γδ T cells are important to the maintenance of gingival homeostasis. In inflamed gingiva, however, the secretion of IL-17 and secreted osteoclastogenic factor of activated T cells (SOFAT) by activated T cells is crucial to induce osteoclastogenesis via RANKL activation. Moreover, the capacity of mucosal-associated invariant T cells (MAIT cells) to produce cytokines, such as IFN-γ, TNF-α, and IL-17, might indicate a critical role of such cells in the disease pathogenesis. Regarding B cells, low levels of memory B cells in clinically healthy periodontium seem to be important to avoid bone loss due to the subclinical inflammation that occurs. On the other hand, they can exacerbate alveolar bone loss in a receptor activator of nuclear factor kappa-B ligand (RANKL)-dependent manner and affect the severity of periodontitis. In conclusion, several new functions have been discovered and added to the complex knowledge about T and B cells, such as possible new functions for Tregs, the role of SOFAT, and MAIT cells, as well as B cells activating RANKL. The activation of distinct T and B cell subtypes is decisive in defining whether the inflammatory lesion will stabilise as chronic gingivitis or will progress to a tissue destructive periodontitis. View Full-Text
Keywords: lymphocyte; T cells; B cells; cytokine; periodontal disease lymphocyte; T cells; B cells; cytokine; periodontal disease

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Figueredo, C.; Lira-Junior, R.; Love, R. T and B Cells in Periodontal Disease: New Functions in A Complex Scenario. Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2019, 20, 3949.

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