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  • 1 Laboratory of Functional Genomics, Biological Research Center P.O. Box 521, H-6701 Szeged, Hungary
  • | 2 Department of Pathology University of Szeged, Szeged, Hungary
  • | 3 Department of Pathology University of Szeged, Szeged, Hungary
  • | 4 Department of Pharmacology and Pharmacotherapy University of Szeged, Szeged, Hungary
  • | 5 Department of Pathology University of Szeged, Szeged, Hungary
  • | 6 I: Research Unit for Cardiovascular Pharmacology of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences; II: Department of Pharmacology and Pharmacotherapy; I: P.O. Box 521, H-6701 Szeged, Hungary; II: University of Szeged, Szeged, Hungary;
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Recent and historical evidence is consistent with the view that atherosclerosis is an infectious disease or microbial toxicosis impacted by genetics and behavior. Because small bacterial-like particles, also known as nanobacteria have been detected in kidney stones, kidney and liver cyst fluids, and can form a calcium apatite coat we posited that this agent is present in calcified human atherosclerotic plaques. Carotid and aortic atherosclerotic plaques and blood samples collected at autopsy were examined for nanobacteria-like structures by light microscopy (hematoxylin-eosin and a calcium-specific von Kossa staining), immuno-gold labeling for transmission electron microscopy (TEM) for specific nanobacterial antigens, and propagation from homogenized, filtered specimens in culture medium. Nanobacterial antigens were identified in situ by immuno-TEM in 9 of 14 plaque specimens, but none of the normal carotid or aortic tissue (5 specimens). Nanobacteria-like particles were propagated from 26 of 42 sclerotic aorta and carotid samples and were confirmed by dot immunoblot, light microscopy and TEM. [3H]L-aspartic acid was incorporated into high molecular weight compounds of demineralized particles. PCR amplification of 16S rDNA sequences from the particles was unsuccessful by traditional protocols. Identification of nanobacteria-like particles at the lesion supports, but does not by itself prove the hypothesis that these agents contribute to the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis, especially vascular calcifications.

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