Presence of Porphyromonas gingivalis in esophagus and its association with the clinicopathological characteristics and survival in patients with esophageal cancer

This research was originally published in 2016 byShegan Gao, Shuoguo Li, Zhikun Ma, Shuo Liang, Tanyou Shan, Mengxi Zhang, Xiaojuan Zhu, Pengfei Zhang, Gang Liu, Fuyou Zhou, Xiang Yuan, Ruinuo Jia, Jan Potempa, David A. Scott, Richard J. Lamont, Huizhi Wang & Xiaoshan Feng. 

We have curated this article as a reference point for The Larkin Protocol.



Mounting evidence suggests a causal relationship between specific bacterial infections and the development of certain malignancies. However, the possible role of the keystone periodontal pathogen, Porphyromonas gingivalis, in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) remains unknown. Therefore, we examined the presence of P. gingivalis in esophageal mucosa, and the relationship between P. gingivalis infection and the diagnosis and prognosis of ESCC.


The presence of P. gingivalis in the esophageal tissues from ESCC patients and normal controls was examined by immunohistochemistry using antibodies targeting whole bacteria and its unique secreted protease, the gingipain Kgp. qRT-PCR was used as a confirmatory approach to detect P. gingivalis 16S rDNA. Clinicopathologic characteristics were collected to analyze the relationship between P. gingivalis infection and development of ESCC.


P. gingivalis was detected immunohistochemically in 61 % of cancerous tissues, 12 % of adjacent tissues and was undetected in normal esophageal mucosa. A similar distribution of lysine-specific gingipain, a catalytic endoprotease uniquely secreted by P. gingivalis, and P. gingivalis 16S rDNA was also observed. Moreover, statistic correlations showed P. gingivalis infection was positively associated with multiple clinicopathologic characteristics, including differentiation status, metastasis, and overall survival rate.


These findings demonstrate for the first time that P. gingivalis infects the epithelium of the esophagus of ESCC patients, establish an association between infection with P. gingivalis and the progression of ESCC, and suggest P. gingivalis infection could be a biomarker for this disease. More importantly, these data, if confirmed, indicate that eradication of a common oral pathogen could potentially contribute to a reduction in the overall ESCC burden.

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