Hamilton JA, Hasturk H, Kantarci A, Serhan CN, Van Dyke T (2017) Curr Atheroscler Rep. 2017 Nov 6;19(12): 57. doi: 10.1007/s11883-017-0696-4.
This review aims to discuss the existing evidence on the link between atherosclerosis and periodontitis by particularly presenting new findings that link the pathology and therapy of these diseases. Acute vascular ischemic events that can lead to stroke or myocardial infarction are initiated by inflammatory processes leading to rupture or erosion of plaques susceptible to thrombosis ("high risk" or "vulnerable"). These are highly inflamed plaques residing in the media and adventitia that may not be detected by angiography measurments of luminal narrowing. Statistically significant excess risk for atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease has been reported in persons with periodontitis independent of established risk factors. We hypothesized that the systemic pathologic links also represent potential therapeutic links.
We recently demonstrated that periodontal inflammation promotes atherosclerotic plaque inflammation and destabilization. As discrete pathological regions, these plaques with a high susceptibility to rupture can be imaged and differentiated from lower risk plaques. In cholesterol-fed rabbits with periodontal disease, circulating inflammatory mediators were also significantly elevated thereby contributing to "vulnerable blood," a systemic characteristic of high risk for cardiovascular events. New studies show that certain lipid mediators, including lipoxins and resolvins, are potent in preventing and possibly treating a number of inflammation-associated diseases, including periodontitis and vascular inflammation. The concept of the vulnerable patient and the pro-resolving approach open new terrain for discovery of paradigm-changing therapies for the prevention and treatment of two of the most common diseases of man. Importantly, lipoxins and resolvins are natural receptor agonists that do not exhibit the same pro-atherogenic side effects attributed to anti-inflammatory medications (e.g., NSAIDs) but rather coordinate resolution of inflammation and a return to homeostasis.