The day may come when dentists enter the field of Alzheimer’s therapy thanks to this breaking research. While past studies have linked the mouth bacteria, porphyromonas gingivalis, heart disease, this study ties several convincing lines of evidence to implicate this bacteria in the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
This particular bacteria can either colonize our mouths or dig deeper and contribute to gingivitis (gum inflammation) in a large percentage of the population. When we brush our teeth or eat, these and other bacteria can be found floating in our blood stream for a short time until our immune systems clean up. While studies are ongoing to understand how they may relate to heart disease, this study is the first to uncover convincing proof in Alzheimer’s.
Researchers first identified the bacteria in the brains of deceased Alzheimer’s patients. Next they identified specific enzymes made by the bacteria in the surrounding tissue. Higher levels correlated with tau proteins which appear to play a role in Alzheimer’s pathology. Building on this, they tested their theories in a mouse model. When the mice brains were infected with the bacteria, a protein associated with the tau proteins increased. The enzyme, gingipains, produced by the bacteria were also found be toxic to nerve function.
While the pharmaceutical world aims at drug-based inhibitors of the enzymes, in functional medicine we work to keep patient’s oral microbiome as healthy as possible. Supporting the immune system and addressing nutritional factors go a long way in this endeavor. We use all the tools available in helping patients live a healthier, more abundant life. We aim to avoid the need for drugs whenever possible.
Porphyromonas gingivalis in Alzheimer’s disease brains: Evidence for disease causation and treatment with small-molecule inhibitors
By Stephen S. Dominy, Casey Lynch, Florian Ermini, Malgorzata Benedyk, Agata Marczyk, Andrei Konradi, Mai Nguyen, Ursula Haditsch, Debasish Raha, Christina Griffin, Leslie J. Holsinger, Shirin Arastu-Kapur, Samer Kaba, Alexander Lee, Mark I. Ryder, Barbara Potempa, Piotr Mydel, Annelie Hellvard, Karina Adamowicz, Hatice Hasturk, Glenn D. Walker, Eric C. Reynolds, Richard L. M. Faull, Maurice A. Curtis, Mike Dragunow, Jan Potempa
Science Advances23 Jan 2019 : eaau3333