A new study suggests that an infection caused by a bacterial mouth could be the cause of the degenerative disease.
There are several studies in which it is hypothesized that Alzheimer’s is more an infection than a degenerative disease . One of the latest, whose author is Jan Potempa, a microbiologist at the University of Louisville, claims that there is a culprit bacterium behind Alzheimer’s, the same culprit as gum disease.
The researchers reported the finding by linking the presence of Porphyromonas gingivalis – the underlying pathogen of chronic periodontitis (aka gum disease) – in the brains of many deceased Alzheimer’s patients. It wasn’t the first time the two factors were linked, but the researchers went further.
In previous experiments conducted in mice, oral infection with the pathogen was reproduced, leading to colonization of the brain by the bacteria, along with increased production of amyloid beta (Aβ), a protein commonly associated with Alzheimers.
The research team, coordinated by the pharmaceutical startup Cortexyme, co-founded by the study’s first author Stephen Dominy, claimed they had not discovered definitive proof of the etiopathogenesis of Alzheimer’s… But, given the coincidences, they decided to investigate further.
“Now, for the first time, we have robust evidence linking the Gram-negative intracellular pathogen P. gingivalis to Alzheimer’s disease pathogenesis,” says the study author, a statement resulting from the research team identifying enzymes toxins called gingipain , secreted by the bacterium Porphyromonas gingivalis, responsible for gum disease, in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.
We’ll have to wait to see what future research uncovers about this link, but the research community is cautiously optimistic.
“Drugs targeting the bacteria’s toxic proteins have so far only shown benefit in mice, yet, with no new treatments for dementia in over 15 years, it’s important to test as many approaches as possible to tackle diseases like Alzheimer’s,” Alzheimer’s Research chief scientist David Reynolds said in a statement.
- Porphyromonas gingivalis in Alzheimer’s disease brains: Evidence for disease causation and treatment with small-molecule inhibitors (science.org)