Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel

Press release No. 19/2009, 2009-02-13

Periodontitis and myocardial infarction: a shared genetic predisposition

A mutual epidemiological relationship between aggressive periodontitis and myocardial infarction has already been shown in the past. Scientists at the universities of Kiel, Dresden, Amsterdam and Bonn have now presented the first evidence of a shared genetic variant on chromosome 9, which maps to a genetic region that codes for the "antisense RNA" Anril, as reported in the latest edition of the specialist journal PLoS Genetics.

The first author, Dr Arne Schaefer from the Institute for Clinical Molecular Biology at Kiel University, sees clear similarities in the genetic predisposition: "We have examined the aggressive form of periodontitis, the most extreme form of periodontitis which is characterized by a very early age of onset. The genetic variation associated with this clinical picture is identical to that of patients who suffer from cardiovascular disease and have already had a myocardial infarction."

Because it has to be assumed that there is a causal connection between periodontitis and myocardial infarction, periodontitis should be taken seriously by dentists and diagnosed and treated at an early stage. "Aggressive periodontitis has shown itself to be associated not only with the same risk factors such as smoking, but it shares, at least in parts, the same genetic predisposition with an illness that is the leading cause of death worldwide.," warned Schaefer. Knowledge of the risk of heart attacks could also induce patients with periodontitis to keep the risk factors in check and take preventive measures.

Besides Arne Schaefer, Gesa Richter, who is doing a doctorate on the subject, is also part of Professor Stefan Schreiber’s working group from the Institute for Clinical Molecular Biology at Schleswig Holstein University Hospital (UK S-H), Kiel Campus. As cardiologist, Dr Nour Eddine El Mokhtari from the Kiel Heart Centre is an important partner in the group. Dental expertise came from Dr Birte Größner-Schreiber from the Hospital for Conservative Dentistry and Periodontology at the UK S-H, Dr Barbara Noack, Technische Universität Dresden, as well as Professor Søren Jepsen from Bonn University and Professor Bruno Loos, Free University Amsterdam.

PLoS Genetics:

Kiel University
Institute for Clinical Molecular Biology
Dr Arne Schaefer
Tel. +49 (0)431/597-3882

Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel
Press and Communication Services, Head: Susanne Schuck
Address: D-24098 Kiel, phone: +49 (0431) 880-2104, fax: +49 (0431) 880-1355