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Keywords:

  • periodontal abscess;
  • cytomegalovirus;
  • Epstein-Barr virus;
  • pathogenesis

Objectives:  Recent studies have linked herpesviruses to severe types of periodontal disease, but no information exists on their relationship to periodontal abscesses. The present study determined the presence of human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) and Epstein-Barr virus type 1 (EBV-1) in periodontal abscesses and the effect of treatment on the subgingival occurrence of these viruses.

Material and methods:  Eighteen adults with periodontal abscesses participated in the study. Subgingival samples were collected from each patient with sterile curettes from an abscess-affected site and a healthy control site. HCMV and EBV-1 were identifed by polymerase chain reaction at the time of the abscess and at 4 months after surgical and systemic doxycycline therapy.

Results:  HCMV was detected in 66.7% of periodontal abscess sites and in 5.6% of healthy sites (P = 0.002). EBV-1 occurred in 72.2% of abscess sites but not in any healthy site (P < 0.001). HCMV and EBV-1 co-infection was identified in 55.6% of the abscess sites. Posttreatment, HCMV and EBV-1 were not found in any study site.

Conclusions:  HCMV and EBV-1 genomes are commonly found in periodontal abscesses. These data favor a model in which a herpesvirus infection of the periodontium impairs the host defense and serves as a platform for the entrance of bacterial pathogens into gingival tissue with subsequent risk of abscess development.