BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVEThe purpose of this study was to determine any difference between Porphyromonas gingivalis isolates from periodontally healthy sites as compared to those from diseased sites with respect to the ability to invade host cells.MATERIAL AND METHODSSubgingival plaque samples were obtained from periodontally healthy and diseased sites using paper points. P. gingivalis colonies were isolated and tested, using an antibiotic protection assay, for their ability to invade KB cells. P. gingivalis 381 and Escherichia coli MC1061 were used as controls.RESULTSMean values of 16.79 +/- 0.86 x 10(3) colony-forming units/mL and 26.14 +/- 2.11 x 10(3) colony-forming units/mL were observed in invasion assays for isolates from periodontally healthy and diseased sites, respectively. P. gingivalis present in diseased sites had significantly greater invasive abilities than strains isolated from healthy sites. No statistical difference was noted between male or female subjects concerning the degree of invasion; isolates from diseased sites from both genders had significantly greater invasion abilities than those from healthy sites. A significant correlation was found between the increased invasive capabilities of P. gingivalis isolates vs. an increased probing depth.CONCLUSIONThe increased invasion noted with P. gingivalis isolates from diseased sites vs. healthy sites, and the increased invasive capabilities with increasing probing depth, indicate that P. gingivalis isolates have a varying ability to invade host cells in the periodontal pocket.