Open Access Open Badges Research article

Prevalence of systemic immunoreactivity to Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans leukotoxin in relation to the incidence of myocardial infarction

Anders Johansson12*, Marie Eriksson2, Ann-Marie Åhrén2, Kurt Boman23, Jan-Håkan Jansson23, Göran Hallmans2 and Ingegerd Johansson2

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Odontology, Faculty of Medicine, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden

2 Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden

3 Department of Medicine-Geriatrics, Sweden

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BMC Infectious Diseases 2011, 11:55  doi:10.1186/1471-2334-11-55

Published: 1 March 2011



Chronic infections and associated inflammatory markers are suggested risk factors for cardiovascular disease (CVD). The proinflammatory cytokine, interleukin (IL)-1β, is suggested to play a role in the regulation of local inflammatory responses in both CVD and periodontitis. The leukotoxin from the periodontal pathogen Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans has recently been shown to cause abundant secretion of IL-1β from macrophages. The aim of the present study was to compare the prevalence of systemic immunoreactivity to A. actinomycetemcomitans leukotoxin in myocardial infarction (MI) cases (n = 532) and matched controls (n = 1,000) in a population-based case and referents study in northern Sweden.


Capacity to neutralize A. actinomycetemcomitans leukotoxin was analyzed in a bioassay with leukocytes, purified leukotoxin, and plasma. Plasma samples that inhibited lactate-dehydrogenase release from leukotoxin-lysed cells by ≥50% were classified as positive.


Neutralizing capacity against A. actinomycetemcomitans leukotoxin was detected in 53.3% of the plasma samples. The ability to neutralize leukotoxin was correlated to increasing age in men (n = 1,082) but not in women (n = 450). There was no correlation between presence of systemic leukotoxin-neutralization capacity and the incidence of MI, except for women (n = 146). Women with a low neutralizing capacity had a significantly higher incidence of MI than those who had a high neutralizing capacity.


Systemic immunoreactivity against A. actinomycetemcomitans leukotoxin was found at a high prevalence in the analyzed population of adults from northern Sweden. The results from the present study do not support the hypothesis that systemic leukotoxin-neutralizing capacity can decrease the risk for MI.