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Periodontal pathogen load and increased antibody response to heat shock protein 60 in patients with cardiovascular disease


  • Conflict of interest and source of funding

    The authors declare that there are no conflicts of interest. The study was funded by the Colgate Palmolive Company, USA.


Mary P. Cullinan

School of Dentistry

University of Otago

PO Box 647

Dunedin 9054

New Zealand




To determine the relationship between periodontal pathogen load and anti-human heat shock protein 60 (hHSP60) antibodies in patients with established cardiovascular disease (CVD).

Materials and Methods

Participants were cardiovascular patients (n = 74) with a previous hospital admission for myocardial infarction. Concurrent periodontal pathogen load of Porphyromonas gingivalis, Fusobacterium nucleatum, Tannerella forsythia and Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans was determined using quantitative real-time PCR. Serum antibodies to these pathogens, GroEL and hHSP60 were determined using an ELISA.


There was a trend for increasing anti-hHSP60 antibody as the number of bacterial species increased. The strongest positive correlations were found between anti-hHSP60 levels and numbers of T. forsythia (r = 0.43; p < 0.001) and between anti-hHSP60 and anti-GroEL levels (r = 0.39; p = 0.001). Patients with extensive periodontal pocketing (≥4 mm) had higher numbers of P. gingivalis and T. forsythia (p < 0.05) and a higher subgingival pathogen load (p < 0.05) than patients with minimal pocketing (≤1 site ≥ 4 mm). They also had significantly elevated anti-hHSP60 levels (p < 0.05). Overall, the highest anti-hHSP60 levels were seen in patients with extensive periodontal pocketing and all four bacterial species.


In cardiovascular patients, a greater burden of subgingival infection with increased levels of P. gingivalis and T. forsythia is associated with modestly higher anti-hHSP60 levels.