Gum disease is linked to Alzheimer’s disease, study confirms

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Fusobacterium nucleatum (F. nucleatum) is a common type of bacteria that proliferates in periodontal disease.

It affects the gums and jawbone, and if untreated results in unstable teeth and tooth loss. In recent years, F. nucleatum has been linked to conditions ranging from colorectal cancer to premature delivery of babies.

Scientists from Tufts University found a link between F. nucleatum and Alzheimer’s disease.

The research is published in the journal Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience and was conducted by Jake Jinkun Chen et al.

In the study, the team found that Fusobacterium nucleatum can generate systemic inflammation and even infiltrate nervous system tissues and exacerbate the signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.

  1. nucleatum can also generate severe generalized inflammation, which is a symptom of many chronic diseases including type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.

Researchers believe that by targeting F. nucleatum, they can slow the spread and progression of at least two epidemics—periodontal disease, which affects 47% of U.S. adults over age 30, and Alzheimer’s, which afflicts 6.5 million Americans currently, and is expected to increase to over 14 million by 2060.

The latest research, done in mice, shows that F. nucleatum results in abnormal proliferation of microglial cells, which are immune cells in the brain that normally remove damaged neurons and infections and help maintain the overall health of the central nervous system.

This over-supply of microglial cells also created an increased inflammatory response.

Chronic inflammation or infection is believed to be a key determinant in the cognitive decline that occurs as Alzheimer’s disease progresses.

The study findings show that F. nucleatum can reduce memory and thinking skills in mice through certain signal pathways. This is a warning sign to researchers and doctors.

While the new research does not show that F. nucleatum-related periodontal disease leads directly to Alzheimer’s disease, the new study suggests that periodontal disease caused by F. nucleatum and left untreated or poorly treated could exacerbate symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.

Conversely, treating periodontal disease effectively in those who have early-stage Alzheimer’s could potentially slow Alzheimer’s progression.

If you care about gum health, please read studies about an important causes of tooth decay and gum disease, and how often should you get your teeth cleaned.

For more information about gum health, please see recent studies about mouthwash that may increase your tooth damage, and results showing common tooth disease may increase the risk of dementia.

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