Are bad teeth prone to dementia? New study: The culprit turns out to be it

▎WuXi Adapt Content Team Editor

As the saying goes, “Toothache is not a disease, but it can kill people”. Many people don’t take toothache seriously, thinking that as long as the pain is not unbearable, they can just get by.

But in reality, toothaches are probably just symptoms. The health of the oral cavity is related to the functions of important organs such as the heart, brain, and kidney, and is even closely related to the health of the whole body. For example, poor mouth health is likely to increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

So why does oral disease affect the brain? Two recent authoritative studies explain some of this to some extent.

Before sharing the mechanism, let’s understand the causes of periodontitis.

Why periodontitis occurs

There are many causes and risk factors for periodontitis, such as plaque, bacterial growth, poor oral hygiene, hormonal changes, obesity, smoking, and more.

Among them, Porphyromonas gingivalis is the main pathogen of chronic periodontitis. It can cause various periodontal lesions, resulting in swollen gums, bad breath, tender gums, easy bleeding gums, loose or falling teeth, and painful chewing.

This bacterium (Porphyromonas gingivalis) is not alone, it has an important accomplice (gingivalin).

Gingivalin, also known as gingival protease, is a group of cysteine ​​proteases secreted by Porphyromonas gingivalis and is currently recognized as the main virulence factor.

Gingivalin not only participates in the proteolytic and trypsin-like activities of P. gingivalis, but also helps P. gingivalis to escape the defenses of the natural immune system, This promotes the destruction of periodontal tissue and leads to local inflammatory response in periodontal tissue.

Image source: 123RF

So, why is gingivalin linked to Alzheimer’s disease?

Gingivin and the mechanism associated with Alzheimer’s disease

We know that tau, a microtubule-associated protein mainly expressed in brain cells, plays a key role in certain neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease (AD) effect.

A paper published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease states that tau proteins are originally found inside nerve cells, but when they encounter gums When the hormone is released, it is released from the nerve cells into the surrounding environment. The physical properties of these free tau proteins will change and become coils or other shapes.

The scary thing is that these tau proteins reconnect with healthy neurons, creating neurofibrillary tangles that can overwhelm the nerve cells and eventually die.

This process is like a domino effect, which repeats itself again, causing more neurons to die.

Meanwhile, another study in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease Reports found that Porphyromonas gingivalis also causes the brain Levels of many pro-inflammatory cytokines were elevated in IL-1, including interleukin-1 and interleukin-6.

These inflammations are associated with the accumulation of beta-amyloid plaques, an important associated risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease.

Studies speculate that gingivalin can also promote the breakdown of amyloid precursors, allowing more mature amyloid to be produced.

Image source: 123RF

To sum up, the health of the oral cavity is like a cannonball that has been hidden in the body for a long time. If the oral cavity is in an unhealthy state for a long time, then its related risk factors may be waiting for the opportunity to make waves and stir up other problems. Tissues or organs are restless.

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Image source: 123RF

References

[1] Shalini Kanagasingam et al, Antimicrobial, Polarizing Light, and Paired Helical Filament Properties of Fragmented Tau Peptides of Selected Putative Gingipains, Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease (2022). DOI: 10.3233/JAD -220486

[2]Shalini Kanagasingam et al, Porphyromonas gingivalis Conditioned Medium Induces Amyloidogenic Processing of the Amyloid-β Protein Precursor upon in vitro Infection of SH-SY5Y Cells, Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease Reports (2022) . DOI: 10.3233/ADR-220029

[3] Li Gege, Pan Jiahui, Tang Qiuling, Liu Xinchan, Hou Yubo, & Yu Weixian. (2017). The mechanism of gingivalin in promoting immune escape of Porphyromonas gingivalis. International Oral Medical Journal, 44(5), 519-522.

[4] Liang Yuqing, Dong Xianjun, Wu Wenbin. Research progress on the correlation between Porphyromonas gingivalis and Alzheimer’s disease [J] . Chinese Journal of Neurology, 2020 ,19 (05): 525-527. DOI: 10.3760/cma.j.cn115354-20190917-00540

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