A common oral health problem may have links to Alzheimers Disease, a recent study shows.
Researchers say they found Porphyromonas gingivalis, a bacteria associated with gum disease, in the brains of people with Alzheimers. The finding, Newsweek reports, could lead to new new Alzheimers treatments and is further evidence of the connection between oral health and overall wellbeing.
According to Newsweek:
Researchers first compared the brain tissue of patients with and without Alzheimer’s disease. They found 96 percent of 53 patients with the condition had RgpB, or a form of the gingipains enzyme known as arginine-gingipain. And 91 percent of 54 patients tested positive for Kgp, or lysine-gingipain. These were detected at levels significantly higher than the control samples, the authors said.
DNA tests on three brains with Alzheimer’s disease and six healthy brains also had the gene associated with P. gingivalis in their tissue. The team also examined the cerebrospinal fluid and saliva of 10 patients believed to have Alzheimer’s disease, and found the P. gingivalis gene hmuY in seven, and P. gingivalis itself in all of them.
And in an experiment on mice, those dosed with gingipains had higher levels of the hallmark Alzheimer’s protein, amyloid beta, and greater damage to their neurons than those who didn’t. What’s more, when mice were treated with a drug blocking the enzymes, the neurodegeneration stopped.
Insider reports that previous studies have linked oral health issues to Alzheimers as well. According to the site:
Some earlier studies do support the idea of a link between oral health and Alzheimer’s. CBS News cited two specific studies in its report. One from 2017 found that people who had gum disease for 10 years had a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s. A small study from 2016 in people with mild to moderate dementia found an association between gum disease and higher rates of cognitive decline.
But, in response to the new study, some scientists have said there’s still not enough evidence to say that microbes like Pg definitively cause Alzheimer’s.