OBJECTIVES: This study aimed to test the hypothesis that metabolic activity within periodontal tissue (a possible surrogate for periodontal inflammation) predicts inflammation in a remote atherosclerotic vessel, utilizing (18)F-fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) positron emission tomography (PET) imaging.Â Several lines of evidence establish periodontal disease as an important risk factor for atherosclerosis. FDG-PET imaging is an established method for measuring metabolic activity in human tissues and blood vessels.
METHODS: One hundred twelve patients underwent FDG-PET imaging 92 Â± 5 min after FDG administration (13 to 25 mCi). Periodontal FDG uptake was measured by obtaining standardized uptake values from the periodontal tissue of each patient, and the ratio of periodontal to background (blood) activity was determined (TBR). Standardized uptake value measurements were obtained in the carotid and aorta as well as in a venous structure. Localization of periodontal, carotid, and aortic activity was facilitated by PET coregistration with computed tomography or magnetic resonance imaging. A subset of 16 patients underwent carotid endarterectomy within 1 month of PET imaging, during which atherosclerotic plaques were removed and subsequently stained with anti-CD68 antibodies to quantify macrophage infiltration. Periodontal FDG uptake was compared with carotid plaque macrophage infiltration.
RESULTS: Periodontal FDG uptake (TBR) is associated with carotid TBR (R = 0.64, p < 0.0001), as well as aortic TBR (R = 0.38; p = 0.029). Moreover, a strong relationship was observed between periodontal TBR and histologically assessed inflammation within excised carotid artery plaques (R = 0.81, p < 0.001).
CONCLUSIONS: FDG-PET measurements of metabolic activity within periodontal tissue correlate with macrophage infiltration within carotid plaques. These findings provide direct evidence for an association between periodontal disease and atherosclerotic inflammation.