Background: The periodontal pathogen Porphyromonas gingivalis (P. gingivalis) has been proven to accelerate the development of atherosclerosis in apolipoprotein E (ApoE)-deficient mice. In this study, we used an ApoE knockout (ApoE-/-) mouse model with chronic intravenous infection with P. gingivalis to investigate the possible mechanisms of P. gingivalis-induced atherosclerosis.
Methods: Eight-week-old ApoE-/- mice were randomly assigned to two groups: (a) ApoE-/- + PBS (n = 8); (b) ApoE-/- + P. gingivalis (n = 8). Both of the groups received intravenous injections 3 times per week. After 4 weeks, oxidative stress mediators in serum, heart, aorta, and liver tissues were analyzed by using histology, ELISA, realtime PCR, and Western blot.
Results: Development of atherosclerosis as plaque formation in the aorta has been confirmed upon P. gingivalis infection. An abnormal lipid profile was found in the serum (increased amounts of very low-density lipoprotein [vLDL] and oxidized low-density lipoprotein [oxLDL], and decreased amount of HDL) and in some organs including heart, aorta or liver (increased mRNA levels of oxidized low-density lipoprotein receptor-1 [LOX-1] or fatty acid synthase [FAS]). Meanwhile, aggravated oxidative stress (higher level of reactive oxygen species [ROS] in the serum, and increased mRNA levels of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate oxidase [NOX]-2 and/or NOX-4 in the three organs) was observed, as well as enhanced inflammatory responses (increased expression and secretion of C-reactive protein [CRP] in the liver and serum, and increased mRNA levels of cyclooxygenase-2 [NOX-2] and/or inducible nitric oxide synthase [iNOS] in the three organs). Besides, inflammatory mediators including nuclear factor of kappa B (NF-κB) and iNOS showed increased protein levels in the three organs after P. gingivalis infection.
Conclusions: These results suggest that chronic intravenous infection with P. gingivalis in ApoE-/- mice could accelerate the development of atherosclerosis, possibly associated with mediating oxidative stress as well as inflammatory responses and disturbing the lipid profile.