Aims: To evaluate (i) the presence of human herpesvirus 7 (HHV-7), Epstein–Barr virus (EBV) and human cytomegalovirus (HCMV), and (ii) the transcription pattern of HHV-7 in gingival biopsies from patients affected by periodontitis (P) and periodontally healthy subjects (H).
Material and Methods: Thirty-seven subjects (P: n=24; H: n=13) were included. Each P patient contributed two gingival biopsies (representative of a clinically affected and non-affected site) and each H subject contributed one gingival biopsy. After DNA extraction, nested polymerase chain reaction was used to identify the viruses.
Results: HHV-7 was detected in 91.7% of P patients and in 61.5% of H subjects (p=0.02), EBV in 50.0% samples of P patients and 7.7% of H subjects (p=0.005) and HCMV only in one sample from H group. EBV was more frequently detected in biopsies from affected sites (50.0%) than from non-affected sites (16.7%) (p=0.008). HHV-7 transcription was detected in 15.4% of affected and 15.4% of non-affected sites.
Conclusions: The results indicate that (i) gingival tissues can be considered a potential reservoir for HHV-7; (ii) when present, HHV-7 persists in a latent state in the majority of cases; (iii) the presence of EBV seems to be associated with the diseased state of the patient and site.