The gingipains of Porphyromonas gingivalis have been implicated in the virulence of this bacterium, and antibodies to the hemagglutinin/adhesin domain (HArep) of the gingipains have been shown to protect against P. gingivalis colonization. However, the cellular mechanisms involved in host responses to HArep have not been elucidated. The purpose of the present study was to determine the functional role of CD80 and CD86 in mediating systemic and mucosal immune responses to the recombinant HArep derived from the gingipain Kgp (Kgp-HArep) after intranasal (i.n.) immunization. We also investigated the effect of the mucosal adjuvants the B subunit of cholera toxin (CTB) and monophosphoryl lipid A (MPL) on the functional role of the costimulatory molecules for the induction of systemic and mucosal responses to Kgp-HArep. The in vivo functional roles of CD80 and CD86 were assessed in C57BL/6 wild-type (wt), CD80-/-, CD86-/- and CD80/CD86-/- mice following intranasal immunization with Kgp-HArep with or without adjuvant. Serum IgG and mucosal IgA antibody responses were induced following i.n. immunization of mice with Kgp-HArep, and were potentiated by CTB or MPL. A differential requirement of CD80 and/or CD86 was observed for systemic IgG anti-Kgp-HArep responses following the primary and secondary immunization with antigen alone or antigen + adjuvant. Compared to wt and CD80-/- mice, CD86-/- mice had reduced serum IgG anti-Kgp-HArep responses following the second immunization with antigen alone or antigen + CTB, whereas similar levels of serum IgG anti-Kgp-HArep antibody activity were observed in wt, CD80-/- and CD86-/- mice immunized with antigen + MPL. Analysis of the serum IgG subclass responses revealed that CD80 influenced both Th1- and Th2-like IgG subclass responses, while CD86 preferentially influenced a Th2-associated IgG subclass response to Kgp-HArep. Mucosal IgA anti-Kgp-HArep responses in saliva and vaginal washes were diminished in CD86-/- mice. In vitro stimulation of murine bone marrow-derived dendritic cells with Kgp-HArep, CTB and MPL resulted in an up-regulation of CD80 and especially CD86 expression. Taken together, our results demonstrate that CD80 and CD86 can play distinct as well as redundant roles in mediating a systemic immune response and that CD86 plays a unique role in mediating a mucosal response to Kgp-HArep following immunization via the i.n. route alone or with adjuvant. © 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.