Periodontal Diseases

A Common Type of Oral Bacteria May Spur Aggressive Colorectal Cancer



  • Fusobacterium nucleatum An oral bacteria linked to the development of colorectal cancer.
  • The bacteria bind to cancer cells and activate growth factors that promote cancer proliferation and metastasis.
  • Maintaining oral hygiene is essential to management Fusobacterium nucleatumreducing the risk of gum disease and its potential systemic health effects.

Your mouth is full of microorganisms. Most of them are harmless, and many have protective effects. But sometimes, certain hardy bacteria can leave the mouth and spread throughout the body. Depending on where they land, they can cause cancer and cause a variety of other problems.

One of the microorganisms Fusobacterium nucleatum, which can travel along the digestive tract and lock onto cells throughout the intestines. Recent research suggests that this bacterium contributes to colorectal cancer tumor development and metastasis.

Researchers at Fred Hatch Cancer Center sought to understand exactly which bacteria survive the long journey through the digestive tract to promote lower intestinal cancer. In a study last month, the team examined colorectal cancer tumors in 200 patients.Half of the patients had higher levels of a Fusobacterium nucleatum subtype, called Verner C2, Comparison of tumor tissue and healthy tissue. This bacterium is also more common in the stool of colorectal cancer patients.

“Not all oral bacteria or gut bacteria can enter tumors, so we set out to find out what makes these tumor-homing bacteria genetically distinctive or special. Our ultimate goal is to use knowledge of tumor-homing microbes to develop New ways to screen for cancer, prevent cancer or treat cancer,” said Dr. Christopher Johnston, corresponding author of the study and assistant professor in the Division of Vaccines and Infectious Diseases at Frederic University. Hatch Cancer Center told Vervell in an email.

How bacteria accelerate cancer

Fusobacterium They are part of a “mobile microbiome,” said Dr. Yiping Han, a professor of microbial sciences in dental medicine, microbiology and immunology at Columbia University. This bacteria can spread beyond the mouth and can be detected at many sites of infection and inflammation throughout the body.

almost everyone has it Fusobacterium nucleatum in their mouths but rarely in the digestive tract of healthy people. When the oral microbiome is out of balance, bacteria can accumulate in plaque and overgrow in inflamed gums, causing and worsening gum disease.

Bacteria in your mouth may enter your bloodstream when you cut your gums or tongue, or they may rush through your gastrointestinal tract when you swallow saliva.

“There are many different kinds of Fusobacterium In saliva, but not in the stomach and colon, this diversity was significantly reduced. This suggests that movement along the gastrointestinal tract is a selective process—stomach acid may kill many of them,” Han told Weaver.

Twenty years ago, Han's laboratory discovered how Fusobacterium nucleatum Binds to cells throughout the body, including cancer cells.Under certain conditions, proteins on the outside of bacteria Folds into amyloid – the same protein that causes plaques in the brains of people with Alzheimer's disease. These tough outer proteins appear to protect bacteria from damage by stomach acid.

Amyloid binders also help bacteria bind to specific sites on cancer cells, Han said. There, it activates a cancer growth factor, causing cancer cells to multiply and spread beyond the tumor site.

Scientists are studying other ways bacteria may cause cancer, such as causing inflammation, which is linked to cancer in many parts of the body.There is currently no evidence that Fusobacterium nucleatum able reason Cancer forms where there are no precancerous cells, Han said.

Signs and symptoms of oral bacteria

Gum disease is often caused by plaque buildup on the teeth.This plaque is composed of a large number of bacteria, including Fusobacterium, feeding on sugar in the mouth. Their excrement can cause inflammation and swelling of the gums.

Gingivitis is a mild gum disease that causes the gums to become red, swollen, and bleed easily. As long as you maintain good oral hygiene, gingivitis will go away on its own. If it spreads to the periodontal tissue, the soft tissue that holds the teeth in the mouth, and other parts of the bone, it can cause more serious damage. In periodontitis, bacteria penetrate deep into the gums, causing further inflammation and tooth decay. Fusobacterium nucleatum Can lead to periodontitis and overgrowth in the mouths of people with gum disease.

Gum disease can be caused by poor oral hygiene, but other risk factors also play a role. Smoking, diabetes, and some hormonal changes also increase the risk of gum disease.

Beyond colorectal cancer

Fusobacterium It is associated with many different diseases besides colorectal cancer. This bacterium has been found in tumors from a variety of different gastrointestinal cancers and diseases, including inflammatory bowel disease and appendicitis.

Han said Fusobacterium It is one of the few bacteria that can cross the blood-brain barrier and placental barrier.

The bacteria appear to enter the bloodstream and cause pregnancy complications such as stillbirth, neonatal sepsis and premature birth. Animal studies show Fusobacterium May also contribute to the progression of Alzheimer's disease.

People whose tumors harbor this bacteria may have a harder time overcoming their cancer and be more likely to relapse.Johnston said people with tumors contain Fusobacterium nucleatum Their survival and prognosis tend to be worse than those without it.

“A large number of studies have shown that not only colorectal cancer, but also esophageal cancer and gastric cancer are related to these cancers. Fusarium nucleatum—They have worse prognosis, shorter survival time, resistance to chemotherapy, more metastases, and so on,” Han said.

Brush and floss your teeth to improve overall health

almost everyone has it Fusobacterium in their mouths, but not everyone develops colorectal cancer. Bacteria appear unable to attach to the lower digestive tract unless the gut microbiome is already imbalanced or the tissue there is damaged or inflamed.

Scientists are still studying how often Fusobacterium nucleatum Appear in colorectal tumors.Lots of Fusobacterium nucleatum Patients with advanced colorectal cancer have higher levels of bacteria in their tissues and stools than those with early-stage colorectal cancer.

There are currently no widely available tests to determine whether you carry harmful oral bacteria. Johnson said identifying tumor-infiltrating bacterial subtypes could help scientists create screening tools to determine who is at greatest risk of developing colorectal cancer.

Once scientists know what the target is, they can develop vaccines or other treatments to eliminate the threat.

“Now, we continue to delve deeper into Verner C2 – Find out what is special about this population and reveal the genetic characteristics that allow it to attach to tumors and burrow inside them,” Johnston said. “If we figure this out, we can stop it from happening or even use it to deliver drugs into tumors.”

At the same time, the best way is to keep Fusobacterium and other bacteria wreak havoc on your body to maintain your oral health. Fusobacterium nucleatum Buildup is a common cause of gum disease. Brushing, flossing, and visiting your dentist regularly can help maintain a balanced oral microbiome and prevent harmful oral bacteria from causing systemic problems.

It's always a good thing to maintain good oral health to prevent inflammation and keep bacteria levels low,” Han says. “Your mouth is the gateway to overall health. You cannot separate your mouth from the rest of your body—the human body is one connected entity.

what does this mean to you

Scientists are still studying which bacteria are linked to cancer, and there's not yet a good way to test yourself for the cancer-causing types. Maintaining good oral hygiene through consistent brushing, flossing, and regular dental visits can reduce the risk of an imbalance in the oral microbiome.

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