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How Periodontal Disease and Presence of Nitric Oxide Reducing Oral Bacteria Affect Blood Pressure

Nitric oxide (NO), a small gaseous and multifunctional signaling molecule, is involved in the maintenance of metabolic and cardiovascular homeostasis. It is endogenously produced in the vascular endothelium by specific enzymes known as NO synthases (NOSs). Subsequently, NO is readily oxidized to nitrite and nitrate. Nitrite is also derived from exogenous inorganic nitrate (NO3) contained in meat, vegetables, and drinking water, resulting in greater plasma NO2 concentration and major reduction in systemic blood pressure (BP). The recycling process of nitrate and nitrite to NO (nitrate-nitrite-NO pathway), known as the enterosalivary cycle of nitrate, is dependent upon oral commensal nitrate-reducing bacteria of the dorsal tongue. Veillonella, Actinomyces, Haemophilus, and Neisseria are the most copious among the nitrate-reducing bacteria. The use of chlorhexidine mouthwashes and tongue cleaning can mitigate the bacterial nitrate-related BP lowering effects. Imbalances in the oral reducing microbiota have been associated with a decrease of NO, promoting endothelial dysfunction, and increased cardiovascular risk. Although there is a relationship between periodontitis and hypertension (HT), the correlation between nitrate-reducing bacteria and HT has been poorly studied. Restoring the oral flora and NO activity by probiotics may be considered a potential therapeutic strategy to treat HT.

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