Study analyzes perio disease/AIDS link

Moderate periodontal disease in an animal model exposed to an AIDS-like virus had more viral variants causing infection and greater inflammation, according to researchers at Texas Biomedical Research Institute.

Both of these features have potential negative implications in long-term disease progression, including other kinds of infections, the researchers said in a new report published in the Journal of Virology (February 2013, Vol. 87:3, pp. 1750-1758).

Researchers from the institute studied whether inflammation of the mouth would increase the susceptibility of monkeys to becoming infected with the monkey AIDS virus. This was based on epidemiological evidence that shows that infection and inflammation of the genital mucosa increases the chances of becoming infected with HIV by the sexual route.

The scientists induced moderate periodontal inflammation in a group of monkeys, while a second group without periodontal inflammation served as a control. After exposing both groups of macaques to infectious SIV, a monkey virus similar to AIDS, in the mouth they did not observe differences in the infection rate, indicating the moderate periodontal disease did not increase the chances of getting infected with the AIDS virus.

However, the researchers observed that the animals that had gum inflammation and became infected had more viral variants causing infection, and they also showed augmented systemic inflammation after infection. Both of these findings may negatively affect the progression of the viral infection, the study authors noted.

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