Background: Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms (AAAs) represent a particular form of atherothrombosis where neutrophil proteolytic activity plays a major role. We postulated that neutrophil recruitment and activation participating in AAA growth may originate in part from repeated episodes of periodontal bacteremia.
Methods and findings: Our results show that neutrophil activation in human AAA was associated with Neutrophil Extracellular Trap (NET) formation in the IntraLuminal Thrombus, leading to the release of cell-free DNA. Human AAA samples were shown to contain bacterial DNA with high frequency (11/16), and in particular that of Porphyromonas gingivalis (Pg), the most prevalent pathogen involved in chronic periodontitis, a common form of periodontal disease. Both DNA reflecting the presence of NETs and antibodies to Pg were found to be increased in plasma of patients with AAA. Using a rat model of AAA, we demonstrated that repeated injection of Pg fostered aneurysm development, associated with pathological characteristics similar to those observed in humans, such as the persistence of a neutrophil-rich luminal thrombus, not observed in saline-injected rats in which a healing process was observed.
Conclusions: Thus, the control of periodontal disease may represent a therapeutic target to limit human AAA progression.