The cytolethal distending toxins (CDTs) are a family of exotoxins produced by a wide range of Gram-negative bacteria. They are known for causing genotoxic stress to the cell, resulting in growth arrest and eventually apoptotic cell death. Nevertheless, there is evidence that CDTs can also perturb the innate immune responses, by regulating inflammatory cytokine production and molecular mediators of bone remodeling in various cell types. These cellular and molecular events may in turn have an effect in enhancing local inflammation in diseases where CDT-producing bacteria are involved, such as Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans
, Haemophilus ducreyi
, Campylobacter jejuni
and Helicobacter hepaticus
. One special example is the induction of pathological bone destruction in periodontitis. The opportunistic oral pathogen Aggregatibatcer actinoycemetemcomitans
, which is involved in the aggressive form of the disease, can regulate the molecular mechanisms of bone remodeling in a manner that favors bone resorption, with the potential involvement of its CDT. The present review provides an overview of all known to-date inflammatory or bone remodeling responses of CDTs produced by various bacterial species, and discusses their potential contribution to the pathogenesis of the associated diseases.