Plaque linked to gum disease could reach the brain and cause dementia –

Cambridge, Massachusetts— Not everyone thinks flossing is a fun activity, but Forsyth Institute researchers highlight the potential dangers of plaque — both in the mouth and in the brain.Scientists discover link between periodontal disease and gum disease development amyloid plaque, considered a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease. In other words, allowing plaque to build up on your teeth may cause different types of plaque to invade your brain.

Researchers have found that oral bacteria can actually travel from the mouth to the brain, causing brain cells to malfunction and promoting nerve inflammation. A team at the Forsyth Institute, in collaboration with researchers at Boston University, successfully demonstrated that gum disease does cause changes in brain cells known as “gum disease.” a. These cells are responsible for protecting the brain from amyloid plaques.

Amyloid plaques are proteins that are closely linked to general cell death and cognitive decline in people with Alzheimer's disease. This latest work provides important insights into how oral bacteria enter the brain and the role of neuroinflammation in the progression of Alzheimer's disease.

We know from previous research that the inflammation associated with gum disease activates an inflammatory response in the brain,” Alpdogan Kantarci, Ph.D., a senior staff member at Forsyth and senior author of the study, said in a media release. “In this study, we asked the question, can oral bacteria cause changes in brain cells?”

beta-amyloid plaques
In the brains of people with Alzheimer's disease, abnormal levels of beta-amyloid clump together to form plaques (which appear brown). Image source: NIH National Institute on Aging. all rights reserved.

The microglia the team studied are a specific type of white blood cell responsible for digesting amyloid plaques. The study authors found that when exposed to oral bacteria, microglia tend to become overstimulated and eat too much.

“They basically become obese,” Dr. Cantage explained. “They are no longer able to digest plaque buildup.”

This observation is important because it shows the impact of gum disease on general health. Gum disease causes lesions to appear between the gums and teeth. Such lesions are usually about the size of the palm of your hand.

“This is an open wound that allows bacteria from the mouth to enter the bloodstream and circulate to other parts of the body,” Dr. Cantage added.

This bacterium is able to cross the blood-brain barrier and stimulate microglia in the brain. Researchers used mouse oral bacteria to induce gum disease in a group of laboratory mice, allowing them to track the progression of periodontal disease in the rodents and ultimately confirm that the bacteria had entered the brain.

Next, the microglia were isolated and exposed to oral bacteria. This exposure stimulates microglia, activating neuroinflammation and changing how microglia process amyloid plaques.

“Understanding how oral bacteria cause neuroinflammation will help us develop more targeted strategies,” Dr. Cantage concluded. This study demonstrates that in order to prevent nerve inflammation and neurodegeneration, it is critical to control oral inflammation associated with periodontal disease. The mouth is a part of the body, and without attention to oral inflammation and infection, it cannot be truly prevented in a reproducible way Systemic diseases such as Alzheimer's disease.

This project marks the first time scientists have used bacteria specific to mice to cause periodontal disease, allowing them to study the effects of the same oral microbiome on the brain. The study authors say these breakthroughs bring their work closer to replicating this process in humans.

The research was published in Journal of Neuroinflammation.

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