Detection of periodontal bacteria in atheromatous plaque by nested polymerase chain reaction

J Periodontol. 2011 Oct;82(10):1469-77. doi: 10.1902/jop.2011.100719. Epub 2011 Mar 29.


Background: In recent years, increasing evidence regarding the potential association between periodontal diseases and cardiovascular diseases has been identified. The available evidence underlines the importance of detecting periodontal pathogens on atheromatous plaque as the first step in demonstrating the causal relationship between the two conditions. The main aim of this investigation is to detect periodontitis-associated bacteria from carotid artery atheromatous plaque from patients who received an endarterectomy using strict sample procurement and laboratory procedures.

Methods: Atheromatous plaque from endarterectomies from carotid arteries were scraped and homogenized, and bacterial DNA was extracted. To obtain a representative concentration of amplicons, two amplifications of the bacterial 16S ribosomal-RNA gene were carried out for each sample with universal eubacteria primers by a polymerase chain reaction (PCR). A nested PCR with specific primers for the target bacteria was performed next. Statistical tests included the χ(2) test.

Results: Forty-two atheromatous plaque were analyzed. All of them were positive for ≥1 target bacterial species. The bacterial species most commonly found was Porphyromonas gingivalis (78.57%; 33 of 42), followed by Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans (previously Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans) (66.67%; 28 of 42), Tannerella forsythia (previously T. forsythensis) (61.90%; 26 of 42), Eikenella corrodens (54.76%; 23 of 42), Fusobacterium nucleatum (50.00%; 21 of 42), and Campylobacter rectus (9.52%; four of 42). The simultaneous presence of various bacterial species within the same specimen was a common observation.

Conclusion: Within the limitations of this study, the presence of DNA from periodontitis-associated bacteria in carotid artery atheromatous plaque retrieved by endarterectomy is confirmed.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans / genetics
  • Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans / isolation & purification
  • Carotid Stenosis / complications
  • Carotid Stenosis / microbiology*
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Chronic Periodontitis / microbiology*
  • DNA, Bacterial / analysis
  • Endarterectomy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Molecular Typing
  • Plaque, Atherosclerotic / complications
  • Plaque, Atherosclerotic / microbiology*
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction / methods
  • Porphyromonas gingivalis / genetics
  • Porphyromonas gingivalis / isolation & purification
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / genetics
  • Smoking


  • DNA, Bacterial
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S