Gum Disease Increases Risk Of Heart Disease

First Posted: Sep 14, 2015 09:57 PM EDT

New findings published in the journal Infection and Immunity show that periodontitis or gum disease, increases the risk of heart problems.

Researchers at Örebro University in Sweden examined animal models to show how the pathogen Porphyromonas gingivalis, which has been found in the coronary artery plaques of heart attack patients, causes genetic changes that increase the inflammation of heart disease.

"Our research clarifies the mechanism behind the association of periodontitis and cardiovascular disease," said Boxi Zhang, a doctoral student at Örebro University, in a press release. "Our aim is to find biomarkers that can help us diagnose and treat both diseases."

The findings revealed that P. gingivitis can result in heart disease when aortic smooth muscle cells are culture and infected by the pathogen. Gingipains also increase the expression of the pro-inflammatory gene angiopoietin 2, which are produced by the pathogen, meanwhile decreasing the expression of the anti-inflammatory angiopoietin 1 that increases inflammation in aortic muscles.

"Angiopoietin 2 directly increases the migration of aortic smooth muscle cells," Zhang concluded. "The migration of smooth muscle cells is involved in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis."

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