In recent years, many scientific studies have confirmed a frightening fact: Alzheimer’s disease is not just a disease, it is a disease.
Although the exact mechanisms of the disease are something researchers are still trying to isolate, many studies show that the prevalence of Alzheimer’s deaths exceeds what we previously thought.
One such study, which was published in 2019, provided a clue that could lead to a person with the bacteria behind Alzheimer’s, and it comes from an unexpected area: gum disease.
In a paper led by lead author Jan Potempa, an ecologist at the University of Louisville, researchers reported the presence of Porphyromonas gingivalis – the virus that causes periodontitis (gum disease) – in the brains of deceased Alzheimer’s patients.
This isn’t the first time the two things have been linked, but the researchers went further.
In separate experiments on mice, oral and bacterial infections led to brain damage by bacteria, as well as increased levels of amyloid beta (Aβ), a sticky protein often associated with Alzheimer’s.
The research team, associated with the pharmaceutical company Cortexyme, founded by first author Stephen Dominy, did not claim to have found definitive evidence of Alzheimer’s disease.
But it was clear that he thought we had a strong investigation here.
“Infectious diseases have been implicated in the development and progression of Alzheimer’s disease in the past, but the evidence for causation has not been conclusive,” Dominy said at the time.
“Now, for the first time, we have strong evidence linking the pathogenic, Gram-negative, P. gingivalisand Alzheimer’s pathogenesis.”
In addition, the team identified toxic enzymes called gingipains released by bacteria in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients, which interact with two markers of the disease: the tau protein, and the protein marker ubiquitin.
But most compellingly, the team identified these dangerous gingipains in the brains of people who had died of Alzheimer’s disease.
This is important, because over time P. gingivalis and the disease has already been linked, it was not known – to put it simply – whether gum disease causes Alzheimer’s, or whether dementia leads to poor oral care.
The fact that gingipain deficiency is seen even in people who have never been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s may be a smoking gun – meaning that they could have developed the condition if they had lived longer.
“Our identification of gingipain antigens in the brains of people with AD and those with AD but not diagnosed with dementia argues that brain disease P. gingivalis it is not due to poor dental care after the onset of dementia or the result of late disease, but it is the first event that can explain the disease that occurs in middle-aged people before cognitive decline,” the authors explained in their paper.
In addition, a group developed by the company called COR388, showed in experiments with mice that it can reduce the number of bacteria that have been established. P. gingivalis brain diseases, while also reducing amyloid-beta production and neuroinflammation.
We’ll have to wait and see what future research reveals about this link, but the research team is looking forward to it.
“Drugs that fight the toxic proteins of bacteria have so far only shown benefit in mice, but without a new treatment for dementia in more than 15 years it is important to try as many ways as possible to fight diseases like Alzheimer’s,” said chief scientist David Reynolds from Alzheimer’s. Research has commented.
The findings were reported in Advances in Science.
The original story of this article was first published in January 2019.