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(4 Jan 2011 21:53 GMT) - Atherosclerosis is the leading cause of death in the developed world. While a number of risk factors for atherosclerosis have been defined, scientists continue to study other possible risk factors for this disease. Recent epidemiological and experimental studies link infectious agents with the development of inflammatory atherosclerosis. A hallmark of chronic infection with the oral pathogen Porphyromonas gingivalis is the induction of a chronic inflammatory response. P. gingivalis induces a local inflammatory response that results in oral bone destruction, which is manifested as periodontal disease, an inflammatory disease that affects approximately 100 million people in the US. In addition to chronic inflammation at the initial site of infection, mounting evidence has accumulated supporting a role for P. gingivalis-mediated periodontal disease as a risk factor for systemic diseases including, diabetes, pre-term birth, stroke, and atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease…
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