Based upon the prosthodontic literature, subjects who are at the transition stage between natural dentition and edentulism are called "terminal dentition" (TD) cases. The aim of the present cross-sectional investigation was to characterize the local and systemic inflammatory responses in 2 groups of patients with terminal dentition periodontitis. Eight severe adult periodontitis terminal dentition (AP-TD) subjects and 8 early onset periodontitis terminal dentition (EOP-TD) subjects were entered into the study. Our purpose was to measure an extended battery of cytokines in the gingival crevicular fluid (GCF) and in lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-stimulated monocytic culture supernatants as well as gingival mononuclear cell messenger RNA (mRNA) transcripts determined from biopsy samples. Within the GCF there were 3 tiers (levels) of mediators based upon approximate 10-fold differences in concentration. The highest tier included prostaglandin E2 (PGE2), interleukin-1β (IL-1β) and interleukin-2 (IL-2), the intermediate tier included tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFα) and Interferon gamma (IFN-γ) and at the lowest concentration level were interleukin-4 (IL-4) and interleukin-6 (IL-6). Thus, the GCF analysis clearly indicated that in both AP-TD and EOP-TD groups the monocytic, i.e. IL-1β and PGE2 and Th1, i.e. IL-2 and IFN-γ, inflammatory mediator levels quantitatively dominated over the Th2 mediators, i.e. IL-4 and IL-6. LPS-stimulated monocytic release of IL-1β. PGE2 and TNFα was significantly elevated in both AP-TD and EOP-TD groups compared to those of a control group of 21 subjects with moderate to advanced adult periodontitis. The cytokine mRNA expression of isolated gingival mononuclear cells showed that in both the AP-TD and the EOP-TD groups Th1 and Th2 cytokines were expressed, with low levels of IL-4 and IL-12. In conclusion, our data suggest that this cross-sectional TD periodontitis model may reflect progressive periodontal disease associated with tooth loss. Furthermore, although Th1 cytokine levels in the GCF dominate over the Th2 response, monocytic activation provides the main source of proinflammatory mediators. In addition, LPS-stimulated peripheral blood monocytes demonstrate an upregulated inflammatory mediator secretion in the terminal dentition. © Munksgaard, 1998.