Inflammation Protein Tied to Gum Disease

CD36 protein increases risk of blood vessel constriction associated with gum disease

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D

(RxWiki News) Your gum health may be more closely linked to your cardiovascular system than you know. A protein associated with cellular inflammation appears to raise the risk of chronic gum disease.

The protein, called CD36, which is found in blood cells, increases the risk of plaque containing blood vessels associated with inflammatory gum disease.

"Get a dental exam every six months."

Maria Febbraio, an associate staff member in the Cleveland Clinic's cardiovascular medicine department, began the study to examine whether the protein was the essential link between chronic periodontal disease, characterized by persistent inflammation, and cardiovascular disease, specifically the hardening of arteries from plaque build up, a common cause of heart attacks.

Previous studies had shown that CD36 could increase the harmful effects of bad LDL cholesterol.

During the study investigators deleted the gene responsible for production of CD36 in mice. The mice were then fed a high fat diet for 12 weeks so that plaque would form in the blood vessels. Researchers also infected some of the animals with the bacteria linked to gum disease.

They noticed that mice that were infected with gum disease had accumulated more fatty plaques in their blood vessels. Mice with the deleted gene, however, did not develop new plaque, even in cases where oral inflammation also occurred.

Researchers concluded plaque build up in the arteries is associated with gum disease by cellular inflammatory responses that involve CD36.

The research, funded by a research grant, was presented today at the American Heart Association’s Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology 2012 Scientific Sessions in Chicago.

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Review Date: 
April 13, 2012
Last Updated:
April 30, 2012