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J Periodontal Res. 2011 Jun;46(3):303-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0765.2010.01343.x. Epub 2011 Jan 25.

Molecular survey of atheromatous plaques for the presence of DNA from periodontal bacterial pathogens, archaea and fungi.

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Departments of Preventive Dentistry, Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte, Natal, RN, Brazil.



Chronic infections, such as periodontitis, have been associated with the development and progression of atherosclerosis. The mechanisms through which this occurs have yet to be elucidated. This study was carried out to detect periodontopathic bacteria as well as archaea and fungi in atheromatous plaques and search for factors associated with their occurrence in atheromas.


  A cross-sectional study was carried out including 30 patients diagnosed with atherosclerosis in the carotid, coronary or femoral arteries. Plaques were collected during surgery and analysed using PCR to detect Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans, Porphyromonas gingivalis, Treponema denticola and members of the Synergistetes group. Samples were also surveyed with universal primers for bacterial, archaeal and fungal DNA. Patients responded to a questionnaire to determine factors associated with PCR results.


All dentate individuals (66.7%) had periodontal disease, 95% of which was severe and 65% extensive. None of the targeted periodontopathic bacteria was found in the atheromas. No sample yielded positive results for fungal and archaeal DNA. Four samples (13%) were positive for the presence of bacterial DNA. Of these, three participants were dentate (two with severely chronic generalized periodontitis and one with severely chronic localized periodontitis).


This study did not confirm previous findings of periodontal pathogens in atheromas, making it impossible to establish factors associated with their presence in plaques. Presence of bacterial DNA in some samples indicates that periodontal or nonoral bacterial species other than the ones targeted in this study may be involved with some cases of atherosclerosis.

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