Amoebae in Chronic, Polymicrobial Endodontic Infections Are Associated with Altered Microbial Communities of Increased Virulence
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Background: Infections of the root canal space involve polymicrobial biofilms and lead to chronic, low grade inflammatory responses arising from the seeding of microbes and by-products. Acute exacerbation and/or disseminating infections occur when established microbial communities undergo sudden changes in phenotypic behaviour. Methods: Within clinical endodontic infections, we assessedcategorical determinants comprising, and changing microbial composition of, chronic polymicrobial infections and their association with amoebae. After standardised assessment, primary or secondary infections underwent sampling and DNA processing, targeting bacteria, fungi and amoebae, including 16S high-throughput sequencing. After taxonomic assignment, community composition was correlated with clinical signs and symptoms. Diversity and abundance analyses were carried out in relation to the presence of non-bacterial amplicons. Results: Clinical specimens revealed two distinct community clusters, where specific changes correlated with clinical signs. An association between the compositions of microbiomes was found between these groups and the presence of Entamoeba gingivalis in 44% of cases. When amoebae were present in endodontic infections, we demonstrate changes in microbial community structure that mirror those observed in treatment-resistant or recurrent infections. Conclusions: Amoeba are present in endodontic infections at a high prevalence, and may promote increased virulence by enrichment for phagocytosis-resistant bacteria.
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