The distribution of Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans in human plaque

L. F. Wolff, W. F. Liljemark, C. G. Bloomquist, B. L. Pihlstrom, E. M. Schaffer, C. L. Bandt

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54 Scopus citations


The association between Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans and periodontal disease in juveniles has been well documented. The purpose of this investigation was to determine the prevalence and proportions of A. actinomycetemcomitans in supragingival and subgingival plaque samples from the maxillary first molars of a large number of young adults. The study population included 284 adults, aged 20–40, ranging in periodontal disease status from healthy to moderate periodontitis but with the majority exhibiting early periodontal disease. The clinical characteristics of probing depth, attachment level, plaque index, and gingival index were measured. Supragingival and subgingival plaque samples were evaluated microscopically for microbial forms. They were also cultured on supplemented blood agar and various selective agar media including selective media for A. actinomycetemcomitans. The prevalence of A. actinomycetemcomitans in subgingival and supragingival plaque for individuals in the population was 13.0% (37/284) and 4.9% (14/284), respectively. Proportions of actinobacilli, based on total anaerobic counts, were found at or below 1% in 87% of 47 subgingival sites from 37 subjects. Supragingival and subgingival sites with actinobacilli were compared to sites without actinobacilli. Subgingival sites with A. actinomycetemcomitans had a significantly higher mean plaque index, with 79% of these sites having a plaque index greater than 1.0 compared to 30% of sites without actinobacilli. The mean gingival index, probing depth, and attachment level of sites with actinobacilli were also higher, but not significantly, than those without. Of the microbial forms enumerated, only spirochetes had a significantly higher mean proportion at subgingival sites when compared to sites without actinobacilli. Mean proportions of the cultivable microorganisms, Veillonella spp. and Streptococcus spp., were significantly lower at sites with A. actinomycetemcomitans. Differences in the mean proportions of certain microorganisms were compared between the 47 subgingival sites with actinobacilli divided into three groups by probing depth. Mean proportions of A. actinomycetemcomitans were significantly higher at intermediate probing depths between 3.0 and 5.0 mm compared to deeper sites with probing depths above 5.0 mm. On the other hand, dark‐pigmented Bacteroides spp. mean proportions were significantly higher at deeper probing depths than at either intermediate or shallow, less than or equal to 3.0 mm, probing depths. There were no significant differences in the mean proportions of spirochetes between shallow, intermediate, or deeper probing depths of the 47 subgingival sites with actinobacilli.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)237-250
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Periodontal Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1985


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