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Bacteria eyed for possible role in atherosclerosis
Date:1/5/2011

Dr. Emil Kozarov and a team of researchers at the Columbia University College of Dental Medicine have identified specific bacteria that may have a key role in vascular pathogenesis, specifically atherosclerosis, or what is commonly referred to as "hardening of the arteries" the number one cause of death in the United States.

Fully understanding the role of infections in cardiovascular diseases has been challenging because researchers have previously been unable to isolate live bacteria from atherosclerotic tissue. Using tissue specimens from the Department of Surgery and the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center at Columbia University, Dr. Kozarov and his team, however, were able to isolate plaques from a 78-year-old male who had previously suffered a heart attack. Their findings are explained in the latest Journal of Atherosclerosis and Thrombosis.

In the paper, researchers describe processing the tissue using cell cultures and genomic analysis to look for the presence of culturable bacteria. In addition, they looked at five pairs of diseased and healthy arterial tissue. The use of cell cultures aided in the isolation of the bacillus Enterobacter hormaechei from the patient's tissue. Implicated in bloodstream infections and other life-threatening conditions, the isolated bacteria were resistant to multiple antibiotics. Surprisingly, using quantitative methods, this microbe was further identified in very high numbers in diseased but not in healthy arterial tissues.

The data suggest that a chronic infection may underlie the process of atherosclerosis, an infection that can be initiated by the systemic dissemination of bacteria though different "gates" in the vascular wall as in the case of a septic patient, through intestinal infection. The data support Dr. Kozarov's previous studies, where his team identified periodontal bacteria in carotid artery, thus pointing to tissue-destructing periodontal infections as one
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Contact: Alex Lyda
alyda@columbia.edu
212-305-0820
Columbia University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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