Protective and destructive immune reactions in apical periodontitis

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134 Citations (Scopus)


Apical periodontitis is initiated primarily by the mixed microflora of infected root canals. Continuous flow of bacteria and their products through the apical foramen induces influx, activation and coordinated interaction of immune-inflammatory cells within the periapical area. Successful mobilization of host defense mechanisms prevents abundant extraradicular bacterial invasion. However, anti-infective effector mechanisms are not restricted to killing the invading microorganisms but also destroy normal tissue components and induce bone absorption, resulting ultimately in the loss of the affected teeth. Moreover, autocrine and paracrine loops of stimulation may lead to the perpetuation of the local inflammatory lesion and may also alter the function of remote tissues and organs. This review attempts to summarize current knowledge about the pathogenic mechanism of apical periodontitis, focusing on the formation of a special granulation tissue that effectively fights bacteria originated from the infected pulp chamber and, by exerting this protective function, also contributes to harmful local and distant events. The dynamic equilibrium between defensive and destructive mechanisms may provide a pathobiological basis for better understanding of clinical signs and symptoms of various forms of apical periodontitis lesions and influence treatment strategy and practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)139-150
Number of pages12
JournalOral microbiology and immunology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1 2000


  • Apical periodontitis
  • Bone resorption
  • Focal infection
  • Lymphocytes
  • Phagocytes
  • Root canal flora

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Dentistry(all)
  • Microbiology (medical)

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