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J Vasc Surg. 2005 Jul;42(1):107-15.

Oral bacteria in the occluded arteries of patients with Buerger disease.

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Department of Surgery, Division of Vascular Surgery, Periodontology, Tokyo Medical and Dental University, Japan.



Recent studies have suggested that infectious organisms play a role in vascular diseases. In this study, to explore a possible link between oral infection and Buerger disease, we investigated whether oral (periodontal) bacteria were present in occluded arteries removed from patients with characteristic Buerger disease.


Fourteen male patients with a smoking history who had developed characteristics of Buerger disease before the age of 50 years were included in this study. Occluded arteries, including superficial femoral (n = 4), popliteal (n = 2), anterior tibial (n = 4), and posterior tibial (n = 4) arteries, were removed and studied. A periodontist performed a periodontal examination on each patient and collected dental plaque and saliva samples from them at the same time. The polymerase chain reaction method was applied to detect whether seven species of periodontal bacteria--Porphyromonas gingivalis, Tannerella forsythensis, Treponema denticola, Campylobacter rectus, Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans, Prevotella intermedia , and Prevotella nigrescens--were present in the occluded arteries and oral samples. In addition, arterial specimens from seven control patients were examined by polymerase chain reaction analysis.


DNA of oral bacteria was detected in 13 of 14 arterial samples and all oral samples of patients with Buerger disease. Treponema denticola was found in 12 arterial and all oral samples. Campylobacter rectus, Porphyromonas gingivalis, Prevotella intermedia, Tannerella forsythensis, and Prevotella nigrescens were found in 14% to 43% of the arterial samples and 71% to 100% of the oral samples. A pathologic examination revealed that arterial specimens showed the characteristics of an intermediate-chronic-stage or chronic-stage lesion of Buerger disease. All 14 patients with Buerger disease had moderate to severe periodontitis. None of the control arterial samples was positive for periodontal bacteria.


This is the first study to identify oral microorganisms in the lesions of Buerger disease. Our findings suggest a possible etiologic link between Buerger disease and chronic infections such as oral bacterial infections.

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