February 1, 2008

Periodontitis and Atherosclerotic Heart Disease

By Roberta Gottlieb, M.D.

The BioScience Center has assembled a team of investigators to explore the link between gum disease (periodontitis) and atherosclerotic heart disease. While epidemiologists have shown a correlation between the two diseases, a causal connection has been more elusive. BSC investigators will look at teenagers and young adults with periodontal disease and will use a sensitive ultrasound test to detect vascular changes that are an early indicator of atherosclerosis. A comprehensive genomic analysis of all the microorganisms present in patients' mouths will provide additional information about which organisms might contribute to both periodontal disease and atherosclerosis. After patients receive treatment for their gum disease, vascular function will be re-examined. If vascular function returns to normal, this would suggest that treating periodontal disease can help to prevent or delay the development of atherosclerosis. The research team includes dentists and investigators from SDSU department of Biology, Graduate School of Public Health, and will be conducted in collaboration with the Indian Health Council and the Price Charities Community School Program. For more information, contact Dr. Gottlieb.