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How Gum Disease Could Lead To Alzheimer’s?

Gum Disease & Alzheimer’s: Is There a Link?

A recent study has made a startling revelation about the relationship of periodontitis or gum disease to increased risk of Alzheimer Disease. The study has encouraged dentists and periodontist to take better care of their teeth and gums to prevent any bacterial overgrowth. This study published in Science Advances speaks about a link between a bacterium P. gingivalis seen with majority of cases of periodontitis and Alzheimer Disease. This came to light when the spinal fluid, brain tissue, and samples of saliva of Alzheimer’s patients and there were significant strains of this bacterium observed[1].

The enzyme secreted by this bacterium called Gingipains was found in the brain tissue of more than 95% of people with Alzheimer Disease. Additionally, the study also showed that this bacterium increased the production of amyloid plaques the accumulation of which is associated with Alzheimer Disease. The study tested animals with periodontitis and explained how the bacterium traveled from the mouth to the brain and started to destroy brain cells[1].

These findings of the study are important in that they form a clear association between gum disease and increased risk of Alzheimer Disease. This article explains in detail how gum disease leads to Alzheimer Disease[1].

How Gum Disease Could Lead To Alzheimer's?

How Gum Disease Could Lead To Alzheimer’s?

Gum Disease referred medically as periodontitis is a common problem which many people face. It has been linked to not only tooth loss but also increased risk of cancer. Now new studies have linked this condition to Alzheimer Disease as well. The studies have linked gum disease to accumulation of toxic proteins in the brain which contributes to the development of Alzheimer Disease. These findings are based on testing done on mouse models that a pharmaceutical company which is researching on new potential drugs for Alzheimer’s[2].

All the results of the studies done so far on this topic have been published in Science Advances. The lead scientist in this study further elaborates that many infectious agents have been linked to the progression and development of Alzheimer Disease but no convincing causative factors had been identified until this latest development.

After extensive research, the scientists identified P. Gingivalis as the bacterium, which is the primary cause of gum disease, as one of the agents that significantly increased the risk of Alzheimer Disease[2].

This bacterium was observed to be present in the brain of many patients diagnosed with Alzheimer Disease. Research done using mouse model revealed that infection caused by P. Gingivalis caused increased production of beta amyloid in the brain. The accumulation of beta amyloid in the brain leads to the development of Alzheimer Disease. This is because when beta amyloid accumulates in the brain it forms plaques which disrupt normal communication between brain cells leading to their destruction[2].

The toxic enzymes present in P. Gingivalis namely Gingipains along with tau and ubiquitin have been known to be associated with development and progression of Alzheimer Disease. Once Gingipains was identified as a target, scientists started looking for therapies revolving around suppressing the effects of this toxic enzyme. They ended up with a compound named COR388 which was found to be most effective in suppressing the effects of Gingipains[2].

This compound also was quite effective in reducing the presence of the offending bacteria and lowering the inflammation. The COR388 was also found to reduce the accumulation of beta amyloid in the brain and even protected the brain cells in the hippocampus from getting damaged. The scientists opine that for the first time now they have substantial evidence that links bacteria to Alzheimer Disease and now they have the potential to alter the progression of disease[2].

However, despite best of efforts put on research the progress has been quite slow. This study published on Science Advances has thrown some light on the link between a bacterium causing gum disease and Alzheimer with an optimistic treatment strategy through COR388. This compound is already on trial and has shown significant promise in people with Alzheimer Disease[2].

Efforts are being made to bring a much larger trial of this compound to observe its efficacy over a longer period of time in managing Alzheimer Disease caused due to bacteria causing periodontitis[2].

In conclusion, latest research has clearly pointed to a link between gum disease and increased risk of Alzheimer’s. P. Gingivalis is the offending bacterium that causes gum disease. This bacterium has toxic enzymes which increase the production beta amyloid which form plaques in the brain disrupting communication between brain cells and ultimately destroying them[2].

After extensive research, scientists have zeroed in on the bacterium P. Gingivalis and have come up with a compound called COR388. This compound when tested on mouse models has shown significant promise in not only decreasing the beta amyloid in the brain but also reduce the number of the offending bacterium[2].

Human trials have already started and have shown positive results in people who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer Disease. Efforts are being made to encourage further research on this topic and come up with other causative factors and better treatment strategies to deal with a neurodegenerative condition like Alzheimer Disease[2].


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Sheetal DeCaria, M.D.
Sheetal DeCaria, M.D.
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Sheetal DeCaria, M.D. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:March 6, 2020

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