Periodontal disease, a common infection that increases the risk of Alzheimer’s disease

Dementia, the most common form of which is Alzheimer’s disease, is a complex disease on which there are still we have a lot to know. There are many factors that contribute to its development in ways that we don’t fully understand, and it may be that in these mechanisms lies the key to one day treating or slowing the disease.

a complex link

For years, scientists have known that there is a link between two seemingly unrelated diseases such as Alzheimer’s and periodontal diseasegum and jaw infection.

However, a survey conducted by Tufts University (United States) and published in the specialized media Frontiers of the neurosciences of aging suggests that this relationship could pass through the bacterium itself which causes the periodontal disease, Nucleated Fusobacteria

And it is that this work has identified that the pathogen can cause systemic inflammation and even seep into the nervous system, amplifying the signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.

In fact, the severe chronic inflammation it is a common symptom of many chronic diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease and type II diabetes.

A way to slow down the progression

The authors found in animal models (mice in this case) that infection with F.nucleatum causes an abnormal proliferation of microglial cells, a distinct type of immune cell in the brain that is normally responsible for clearing out damaged neurons and infections and for generally maintaining the health of the central nervous system. However, the excess of these cells causes an increased inflammatory response.

In fact, this inflammatory response reduced memory capacities and cognition in mice. This, they say, should serve as a wake-up call to researchers and clinicians.

This does not mean, they point out, that infection with F.nucleatum lead directly to Alzheimer’s disease; rather, it suggests that periodontal disease caused by this pathogen could worsen symptoms of dementia if left untreated. On the contrary, the treatment of the pathology could slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

References

Hongle Wu, Wei Qiu, Xiaofang Zhu et al. The periodontal pathogen Fusobacterium nucleatum exacerbates Alzheimer’s pathogenesis through specific pathways. Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience (2022), accessed online at https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnagi.2022.912709/full on July 15, 2022.

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