Chronic infections have been associated with cardiovascular disease. We used bacterial culture, polymerase chain reaction (PCR), and immunohistochemical staining with anti-vacA and anticagA antibodies to search for Helicobacter pylori and Chlamydiae pneumoniae in atherosclerotic plaques obtained at endarterectomy. Serum IgG antibodies to H. pylori and C. pneumoniae were also determined. Thirty-two patients were enrolled. Anti-H. pylori and anti-C. pneumoniae IgG were present in 72% and 81%, respectively. Culture and PCR for H. pylori of vessel walls and plaques were negative. Atherosclerotic plaque and normal vessel sections from H. pylori-negative and- positive patients showed reactivity with anti-vacA and anti-cagA antibodies. C. pneumoniae DNA was amplified in three atherosclerotic lesions. These findings suggest that the association between H. pylori infection and atherosclerosis does not result from continuing direct effects of H. pylori antigens in the vessel walls. Antigens within vessel atherosclerotic plaques cross-react with H. pylori virulence factors and could act as cofactors in determining instability for the atherosclerotic plaques.
- Chlamydiae pneumoniae
- Helicobacter pylori infection
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