Invasion of oral and aortic tissues by oral spirochete Treponema denticola in ApoE(-/-) mice causally links periodontal disease and atherosclerosis. Academic Article uri icon


  • Treponema denticola is a predominantly subgingival oral spirochete closely associated with periodontal disease and has been detected in atherosclerosis. This study was designed to evaluate causative links between periodontal disease induced by chronic oral T. denticola infection and atherosclerosis in hyperlipidemic ApoE(-/-) mice. ApoE(-/-) mice (n = 24) were orally infected with T. denticola ATCC 35404 and were euthanized after 12 and 24 weeks. T. denticola genomic DNA was detected in oral plaque samples, indicating colonization of the oral cavity. Infection elicited significantly (P = 0.0172) higher IgG antibody levels and enhanced intrabony defects than sham infection. T. denticola-infected mice had higher levels of horizontal alveolar bone resorption than sham-infected mice and an associated significant increase in aortic plaque area (P 0.05). Increased atherosclerotic plaque correlated with reduced serum nitric oxide (NO) levels and increased serum-oxidized low-density lipoprotein (LDL) levels compared to those of sham-infected mice. T. denticola infection altered the expression of genes known to be involved in atherosclerotic development, including the leukocyte/endothelial cell adhesion gene (Thbs4), the connective tissue growth factor gene (Ctgf), and the selectin-E gene (Sele). Fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH) revealed T. denticola clusters in both gingival and aortic tissue of infected mice. This is the first study examining the potential causative role of chronic T. denticola periodontal infection and vascular atherosclerosis in vivo in hyperlipidemic ApoE(-/-) mice. T. denticola is closely associated with periodontal disease and the rapid progression of atheroma in ApoE(-/-) mice. These studies confirm a causal link for active oral T. denticola infection with both atheroma and periodontal disease.

published proceedings

  • Infect Immun

altmetric score

  • 17.25

author list (cited authors)

  • Chukkapalli, S. S., Rivera, M. F., Velsko, I. M., Lee, J., Chen, H., Zheng, D., ... Kesavalu, L.

citation count

  • 52

complete list of authors

  • Chukkapalli, Sasanka S||Rivera, Mercedes F||Velsko, Irina M||Lee, Ju-Youn||Chen, Hao||Zheng, Donghang||Bhattacharyya, Indraneel||Gangula, Pandu R||Lucas, Alexandra R||Kesavalu, Lakshmyya

editor list (cited editors)

  • Blanke, S. R.

publication date

  • May 2014