It has been reported that a growing number of people suffering from Periodontitis, could be at risk for heart disease
Recently, a team of researchers who were published in the Journal of the American Society for Microbiology, demonstrated that periodontal pathogen causes change in gene expression. This gene expression can lead to a boost in inflammation and atherosclerosis in aortic smooth muscle cells.
The study also found that the periodontal pathogen and Porphyromonas gingivalis, have also been found in coronary artery plaques of heart attack patients. When studied in two species of animal models, P. gingivalis was shown to cause and accelerate formation of coronary and aortic atherosclerosis. The researchers, led by Torbjörn Bengtsson of the Department of Clinical Medicine, School of Health Sciences, Örebro University, Örebro, Sweden, showed how this happens.
They began by culturing human aortic smooth muscle cells, and infecting them with P. gingivalis. They found that, “gingipains, virulence factors produced by P. gingivalis, boost expression of the pro-inflammatory angiopoietin 2, while dampening expression of the anti-inflammatory angiopoietin 1 in the smooth muscle cells, with the net effect of increasing inflammation. Inflammation is strongly implicated in atherosclerosis.”
“Although unstimulated [aortic smooth muscle cells] produce angiopoietin 2 at a low level, stimulation with wild-type P. gingivalis dramatically increases the gene expression of angiopoietin 2 in [aortic smooth muscle cells],” the researches wrote.
“Angiopoietin 2 directly increases the migration of aortic smooth muscle cells,” said first author Boxi Zhang, a PhD student in Bengtsson’s laboratory. “The migration of smooth muscle cells is involved in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis.”
To conclude, the researchers stated that:
“Our research clarifies the mechanism behind the association of periodontitis and cardiovascular disease,” said Zhang. “Our aim is to find biomarkers that can help us diagnose and treat both diseases.”