Possible translocation of periodontal pathogens into the lymph nodes draining the oral cavity

J Microbiol. 2012 Oct;50(5):827-36. doi: 10.1007/s12275-012-2030-8. Epub 2012 Nov 4.


Numerous publications have reported the presence of periodontopathogenic bacteria in peripheral and central vascular lesions. However, it is unclear how this bacterial translocation occurs. The objective of this study was to investigate whether periodontopathic bacteria are translocated to lymph nodes proximal to the oral cavity. Obtaining lymph node samples is not ethically feasible unless they are excised as part of the surgical management of patients with cancer. This study analyzed formalin-fixed and paraffin-embedded lymph nodes, histologically negative for cancer cell invasion, that were excised from 66 patients with histories of head and neck cancer. Real-time PCR was performed to amplify the 16S ribosomal DNA fragments from Porphyromonas gingivalis, Treponema denticola, Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans, Tannerella forsythia, and Prevotella intermedia. The relationship between bacterial detection and cancer severity, gender, and the use of anti-cancer therapy was examined by Fisher's exact test. P. gingivalis, T. forsythia, and P. intermedia were present in 17%, 8%, and 8% of the samples of submandibular and submental lymph nodes, respectively. There were no significant relationships between bacterial detection and the cancer disease status, patient gender or use of anticancer therapy. According to these data, it appears that the translocation of periodontopathic bacteria may occur via lymphatic drainage, irrespective of the cancer disease status, gender or anticancer therapy.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans
  • Bacteria / genetics
  • Bacteria / isolation & purification*
  • Bacterial Physiological Phenomena
  • Bacterial Translocation*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lymph Nodes / microbiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mouth / microbiology*
  • Neoplasms / microbiology
  • Periodontal Diseases / microbiology*