Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans is considered a major etiologic agent of aggressive periodontitis but this species has also been associated with other forms of periodontal disease. Further, highly leukotoxic strains are related to severity of disease. This investigation determined the prevalence of A. actinomycetemcomitans and the occurrence of the leukotoxin gene 530-bp deletion in Brazilian subjects with chronic periodontitis. Twenty periodontally healthy and 20 chronic periodontitis subjects were selected. Full-mouth clinical examination was carried out at 6 sites/tooth. Subgingival biofilm samples were collected from the 3 deepest sites and 3 healthy sites from periodontitis subjects, as well as from 3 sites of individuals with periodontal health. A. actinomycetemcomitans and the genetic deletion were determined by the polymerase chain reaction. Significant differences were sought by Mann-Whitney, Chi-square, and Wilcoxon sign tests. Periodontitis subjects presented a higher prevalence (75%) of A. actinomycetemcomitans than individuals with health (45%) (p = 0.053). A mean frequency of 57.5% of A. actinomycetemcomitans - positive sites was observed in the periodontitis group. Of those, 75% were diseased, whereas 40% were healthy sites (p = 0.0001). Healthy subjects showed a mean frequency of 35% of positive sites. In contrast, the genetic deletion was detected only in 4 diseased sites from 2 chronic periodontitis patients. A high prevalence of A. actinomycetemcomitans was observed in Brazilians with chronic periodontitis. However, the leukotoxin gene 530-bp deletion was rarely detected in the subgingival biofilm of these subjects.
chronic periodontitis; PCR; Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans; subgingival biofilm; leukotoxin