Is Periodontal Disease Linked to Alzheimers?

Is Periodontal Disease Linked to Alzheimers?

According to Tufts Now, “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. Now new research published in the journal Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience by Tufts University scientists and colleagues suggests a link between F. nucleatum and Alzheimer’s disease. “In this study, our lab is the first to find that Fusobacterium nucleatum can generate systemic inflammation and even infiltrate nervous system tissues and exacerbate the signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease,” says Jake Jinkun Chen, DI09, A12P, professor of periodontology and director of the Division of Oral Biology at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine. The first author of the paper is Hongle Wu, who was a postdoctoral fellow in the Chen Lab at the time of the study. F. nucleatum can also generate severe generalized inflammation, which is a symptom of many chronic diseases including Type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease, notes Chen, who is also a trained pathologist and professor in the Department of Developmental, Molecular and Chemical Biology at the School of Medicine and Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. Chen and his colleagues 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. ”

F. nucleatum and Immune Cells in the Brain

” The latest research, done in mice, shows that F. nucleatum results in an 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, the researchers found. Chronic inflammation or infection is believed to be a key determinant in the cognitive decline that occurs as Alzheimer’s disease progresses.”


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