Ammonia as a potential mediator of adult human periodontal infection: Inhibition of neutrophil function

R. Niederman, B. Brunkhorst, S. Smith, R. N. Weinreb, M. I. Ryder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Neutrophils (polymorphonuclear leucocytes) are the principal cell of the host defence system. Consequently, if periodontal pathogen-derived substances in the gingival crevice significantly inhibit their function, they could shift the bacterial-host balance in favour of the bacteria. The hypothesis that ammonia can inhibit neutrophil function was tested. Ammonia was specifically selected because periodontal pathogens produce substantial amounts of ammonia. The findings indicated that ammonia can inhibit neutrophil phagocytosis, degranulation and oxygen metabolism. Ammonia decreased the total number of phagocytosing polymorphonuclear neutrophils (66% of control) and also decreased degranulation (61% of control). Ammonia decreased oxygen metabolism of both resting and stimulated neutrophils (33 and 42% of control, respectively). These observations support the hypothesis that ammonia can inhibit the function of polymorphonuclear leucocytes. They suggest that the presence of ammonia in the gingival crevice may increase the risk of development of periodonal disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S205-S209
JournalArchives of Oral Biology
Issue numberSUPPL.
StatePublished - 1990



  • ammonia
  • degranulation
  • neutrophils
  • oxygen metabolism
  • periodontal disease
  • phagocytosis
  • polymorphonuclear leucocytes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Dentistry(all)
  • Cell Biology

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