Gum disease linked to high levels of bad cholesterol

New York: Researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University have established a link between gum disease and high levels of a particularly bad form of low-density lipoprotein (LDL).

In the new study, researchers focused on 12 subjects with generalized aggressive periodontitis and 12 healthy controls. Researchers found that patients with generalized aggressive periodontitis, a condition associated with chronically infected and inflamed gums, generally had elevated plasma levels of a subclass of the low-density lipoprotein (LDL) called small-dense LDL. Past studies have linked small-dense LDL with a three to six fold increased risk of heart disease or stroke.

The study found that one reason the periodontitis subjects may have had an increased level of small-dense LDL is because they had a decreased level of activity of an enzyme known as platelet activating factor acetylhydrolase (PAF-AH). PAF-AH is able to break down some of the inflammatory, atherogenic components of LDL. The observed decrease of LDL-associated PAF-AH activity in patients with severe periodontitis may increase the cardiovascular risk of these patients and be partially responsible for the increased plaque build up in the arteries of periodontitis patients.

Currently, the researchers are conducting a larger study with a greater number of patients who have different degrees of periodontitis.