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J Clin Periodontol. 2001 Sep;28(9):879-85.

Herpes viruses and periodontopathic bacteria in early-onset periodontitis.

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This study examined the occurrence of human herpes viruses and suspected periodontopathic bacteria in early-onset periodontitis patients who experienced progressive disease in at least 2 periodontal sites during the maintenance phase of therapy.


In each of 16 individuals (9 male and 7 female; mean age 33.1+/-2.6 years), subgingival plaque samples were collected from 2 deteriorating and 2 stable periodontitis sites. A nested polymerase chain reaction method determined the presence of human cytomegalovirus (HCMV), Epstein-Barr virus type 1 (EBV-1) and herpes simplex virus (HSV). A 16s rRNA polymerase chain reaction method identified Porphyromonas gingivalis, Dialister pneumosintes, Bacteroides forsythus and Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans.


HCMV was detected in 59.4% of active and in 12.5% of stable sites (p<0.001), EBV-1 in 43.8% of active and in 12.5 % of stable sites (p=0.01), HSV in 34.5% of active and in 9.4% of stable sites (p=0.03), and co-infection with any of the 3 test herpesviruses in 43.8% of active and in 3.1% of stable sites (p<0.001). P. gingivalis was detected in 71.9% of active and in 37.5% of stable sites (p=0.01), D. pneumosintes in 62.5% of active and in 18.8% of stable sites (p=0.04), co-infection with P. gingivalis and D. pneumosintes in 50% of active and in 0% of stable sites (p<0.001), and co-infection with any 3 or 4 of the test bacteria in 40.6% of active and in 0% of stable sites (p=0.001). All periodontitis sites showing herpesvirus co-infection and all but one site showing P. gingivalis and D. pneumosintes co-infection revealed bleeding upon probing.


HCMV, EBV-1, HSV and herpesvirus co-infection, as well as P. gingivalis, D. pneumosintes and P. gingivalis-D. pneumosintes co-infection were statistically associated with active periodontitis. Herpesviruses are immunosuppressive and may set the stage for overgrowth of subgingival P. gingivalis, D. pneumosintes and other periodontopathic bacteria. Understanding the significance of herpesviruses in human periodontitis may allow for improved diagnosis, more specific therapy and, ultimately, disease prevention.

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