Backgrounds: Numerous reports have demonstrated that periodontal bacteria are present in plaques from atherosclerotic arteries. Although periodontitis has recently been recognized as a risk factor for coronary artery disease, the direct relationship between periodontal bacteria and coronary artery disease has not yet been clarified. It has been suggested that these bacteria might contribute to inflammation and plaque instability. We assumed that if periodontal bacteria induce inflammation of plaque, the bacteria would be released into the bloodstream when vulnerable plaque ruptures. To determine whether periodontal bacteria are present in thrombi at the site of acute myocardial infarction, we tried to detect periodontal bacteria in thrombi of patients with acute myocardial infarction by polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Methods: We studied 81 consecutive adults with ST-segment elevation acute myocardial infarction who underwent primary percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI). All patients underwent removal of thrombus with aspiration catheters at the beginning of percutaneous coronary intervention, and a small sample of thrombus was obtained for PCR. Results: The detection rates of periodontal bacteria by PCR were 19.7% for Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans, 3.4% for Porphyromonas gingivalis, and 2.3% for Treponema denticola. Conclusions: Three species of periodontal bacteria were detected in the thrombi of patients with acute myocardial infarction. This raises the possibility that such bacteria are latently present in plaque and also suggests that these bacteria might have a role in plaque inflammation and instability.
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