Nearly all of the plaque samples showed moderate to high levels of C-reactive protein, a marker for inflammatory activity associated with bacterial infection and the development of atherosclerosis.
"We weren't surprised to find periodontal bacteria in the carotid arteries of this German cohort, but we expected some variation from those found in our U.S. cohorts," said Violet Haraszthy, D.D.S., assistant professor in UB's School of Dental Medicine and lead author on the study.
"This is an entirely different population with a different genetic profile. "But we found the same bacteria, which supports our earlier studies indicating that oral infection plays a role in atherogenesis. "
The study of pathogenic burden involved samples from seven participants in the larger group.
"We wanted to find out what else was there, and we found evidence for the presence of a number of different bacteria," said Joseph Zambon, D.D.S., Ph.D., professor of periodontics in the dental school and senior author of this study.
"Did these bacteria cause the plaque to develop, or did the bacteria just get trapped in the fatty deposits already forming? We don't know that yet," he said. "But the finding does support the idea that there may be many organisms involved in atheromas. And our data suggests that certain kinds of oral bacteria are more important than others," Zambon noted.