BACKGROUND: Detailed genetic analysis of bacteria has demonstrated an unanticipated genetic diversity within species, which often reveals evolutionary lineages that are disproportionately associated with infection. There is evidence that some evolutionary lineages of bacteria have adapted to particular ethnic groups. AIM: This review analyzes to what extent observed differences in periodontal disease prevalence among ethnically or geographically distinct populations may be explained by restricted host adaptation of clones of principal periodontal pathogens. RESULTS: Carriage rates of several putative periodontal pathogens and particular subsets of these species vary between ethnic groups. Few of these differences can, with the limited information available, be directly related to differences in periodontal disease prevalence. Asian populations are regularly colonized with Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans serotype c with questionable pathogenic potential. Conversely, the JP2 clone of A. actinomycetemcomitans has enhanced virulence and causes significantly higher prevalence of aggressive periodontitis in adolescents whose descent can be traced back to the Mediterranean and Western parts of Africa. Some genetically distinct types of Porphyromonas gingivalis are more associated with disease than others, but additional work is required to relate this to clinical differences. CONCLUSIONS: Studies that take into account differences linked to the genetics of both patients and potential pathogens are likely to give better insight into the aetiology of periodontal diseases.
Journal of Clinical Periodontology, 2008, Vol 35, p. 346-61