Biological foundation for periodontitis as a potential risk factor for atherosclerosis

Yong Hee P. Chun, Kyoung Ryul J. Chun, De'Avlin Olguin, Hom Lay Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalShort surveypeer-review

77 Scopus citations


Objectives: Links between periodontal diseases and systemic diseases have been well documented by epidemiological studies. Recently, research has shifted to elucidating the biologic mechanism for a causal relationship. One focus of interest is atherosclerosis, the underlying event of cardiovascular diseases due to its serious health impact. However, it is still not clear whether periodontopathic pathogens are truly etiologic agents or ubiquitous bystanders. This article reviews the current understanding about the molecular biological interactions between periodontal disease and atherosclerosis and the biological plausibility of periodontitis as a potential risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Materials and methods: The current literature regarding periodontal diseases and atherosclerosis and coronary vascular disease was searched using the Medline and PubMed databases. Results: In vitro experiments and animal models are appropriate tools to investigate the biological interactions between periodontal disease and atherosclerosis at the cell molecular level. The concepts linking both pathologies refer to inflammatory response, immune responses, and hemostasis. In particular, Porphyromonas gingivalis appears to have unique, versatile pathogenic properties. Whether or not these findings from isolated cells or animal models are applicable in humans with genetic and environmental variations is yet to be determined. Likewise, the benefit from periodontal therapy on the development of atherosclerosis is unclear. Approaches targeting inflammatory and immune responses of periodontitis and atherosclerosis simultaneously are very intriguing. Conclusion: An emerging concept suggests that a pathogenic burden from different sources might overcome an individual threshold culminating in clinical sequela. P. gingivalis contributes directly and indirectly to atherosclerosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)87-95
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Periodontal Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Atherosclerosis
  • Bacteremia
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Periodontal disease
  • Porphyromonas gingivalis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Periodontics


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