Posted on Jan 15, 2020, 5 p.m.
According to a study published in Science Advances maintaining good oral health may help to slow down the development of Alzheimer’s disease; Porphyromonas gingivalis a bacterium that causes chronic periodontitis has been found to colonize the brains of those with the disease.
Toxic substances produced by P. gingivalis called gingipains correlate with the levels of tau and ubiquitin in the brains of those with Alzheimer’s disease, these proteins are linked with the development of the disease; inhibiting the activity of gingipains has been found to reduce tau and ubiquitin levels and protect brain neurons from damage caused by inflammation.
This study confirms the idea first mentioned in the early 20th century by Alois Alzheimer that infections contribute to the development of the disease, and findings support a study led by Ruth Itzaki of the Universities of Manchester and Oxford that demonstrated the role of HSV1 in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease. Additionally, a study from the University of Illinois in 2018 also reported that inducing gum disease in young healthy mice leads to development of pathological hallmarks of the disease.
“Infectious agents have been implicated in the development and progression of Alzheimer’s disease before, but the evidence of causation hasn’t been convincing,” said Stephen Dominy, lead author of this study. Dominy and colleagues suggest that the bacterium itself doesn’t directly cause the disease, rather the presence substantially increases the risk of development and contributes to rapid progression of the disease.
The team suggests they may have come up with a way to combat the disease in the form of small molecules that can inhibit gingipains that successfully reduced the P. gingivalis infection and neuroinflammation in the brains of mice as well as the production of proteins associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
Among the inhibitors developed COR388, a selective inhibitor of the gingipain Kgp, was the most effective and showed dose-dependent effects, being found to stop production of toxic beta amyloid peptides and preserve neurons in the hippocampus in animal studies. An article published in MedicalNewsToday reports that COR388 is already under trial and the research team claims that volunteers have responded well to treatment with the inhibitor.
“Brush your teeth and use floss,” said co-author Piotr Mydel, a researcher from the University of Bergen in Norway, who also stresses that those steps are very important, especially for people with gingivitis and a family history of Alzheimer’s.
With prevention being better than cure in mind, this study highlights the importance of maintaining good oral hygiene which comes with the benefit of lowering the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Additionally following a healthy balanced diet, leading an active lifestyle, getting enough sleep, keeping stress in check, engaging in social activities, and getting constant mental stimulation can also help to lower your risks of developing this debilitating brain wasting disease with no known cure that affects millions around the globe.
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