Years ago, researchers discovered the connection between gum disease and other health issues such as heart disease, diabetes, respiratory infection and osteoporosis. This bacterial infection is also associated with dementia, and now there is evidence, Marysville, the cause of Alzheimer’s may be a bacterium involved in gum disease. Read on for more information about the connection between the neuropathology found in Alzheimer’s and gum disease.
Alzheimer’s disease causes progressive loss of memory and cognitive function, usually over the course of 10 years or more. Two types of protein that accumulate in the brains of patients—amyloid and tau—form sticky plaques. Amyloid is particularly troublesome, and has been at the center of research on the disease.
In 2016, researchers found that amyloid functions as a sticky defense against bacteria. When bacteria were injected into the brains of mice engineered to make Alzheimer’s proteins, plaques developed around bacterial cells overnight.
Bacteria have been found in the brains of people that had Alzheimer’s when they were living. However, it’s not clear whether the bacteria caused the disease or if bacteria could enter brains damaged by Alzheimer’s.
Porphyromonas gingivalis is the main bacterium involved in gum disease, which is a proven risk factor for Alzheimer’s. Teams of researchers have discovered that P. gingivalis:
Casey Lynch of Cortexyme, a pharmaceutical firm in San Francisco, and her team looked at brain samples of people without Alzheimer’s. They saw some P. gingivalis and protein accumulation at low levels. Researchers already know that amyloid and tau can accumulate in the brain for 10 to 20 years before the symptoms of Alzheimer’s begin. Lynch and her team say this shows that P. gingivalis does not enter the brain as a result of Alzheimer’s, but could actually be the cause.
If this new hypothesis is proven to be true, then effective treatments could be developed. Vaccines might be given to block gingipain, a protease that is secreted by P. gingivalis. The Cortexyme team found that giving some gingipain-blocking molecules to mice with P. gingivalis infections reduced brain infection, as well as neuron damage.
This may be the first step in treating or even preventing Alzheimer’s. Until then, gum disease prevention may help maintain brain health, so see your dentist in Marysville regularly.
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