Chronic infections, including periodontal infections, may predispose to cardiovascular disease.
Dr Desvarieux and colleagues from America undertook a study in order to investigate the relationship between periodontal microbiota and subclinical atherosclerosis.
The research team analyzed 657 dentate subjects out of a total of 1056 persons who had been enrolled in the Oral Infections and Vascular Disease Epidemiology Study (INVEST).
Participants had no history of stroke or myocardial infarction.
Among these subjects, the researchers collected 4561 subgingival plaque samples (average of 7 samples/subject).
The investigators then quantitatively assessed these samples for 11 known periodontal bacteria by DNA-DNA checkerboard hybridization.
The research team obtained extensive in-person cardiovascular risk factor measurements, a carotid scan with high-resolution B-mode ultrasound, white blood cell count, and C-reactive protein values.
The researchers looked at mean carotid artery intima-media thickness (IMT).
They also undertook 3 separate analyses (1) burden of all bacteria assessed, (2) burden of bacteria causative of periodontal disease (etiologic bacterial burden), and (3) the relative predominance of causative/over other bacteria in the subgingival plaque.
|Overall, periodontal bacterial burden was related to carotid intima-media thickness|
The research team adjusted the results for age, race/ethnicity, gender, education, body mass index, smoking, diabetes, systolic blood pressure, and LDL and HDL cholesterol.
The researchers found that overall, periodontal bacterial burden was related to carotid intima-media thickness.
In addition, the research team noted that this relationship was specific to causative bacterial burden and the dominance of etiologic bacteria in the observed microbiological niche.
Dr Jacobs, another author and a professor in the Division of Epidemiology at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health commented,
"After re-analyzing the data, we found, with the exception of an oral bacterium called Micromonas micros, the relationship was limited to these four established oral pathogens."
Dr Desvarieux concluded "It was exactly what we hypothesized".
However, he cautioned, "It now becomes crucial to follow the participants over time and see whether these baseline findings hold up and further translate into clinical disease."