In recent years, some scientific studies have pointed to a little-known hypothesis about the origin of Alzheimer’s: this disease would not be just a disease, but it would be an infection.
A new study in the scientific journal Science Advances reinforces the theory that Alzheimer’s could be caused by a gum disease and therefore, researchers continue to study the specific mechanisms of this infection, according to Science Alerts.
Joan Potempa, a microbiologist at the University of Louisville, has discovered in this new study that the bacteria that cause chronic periodontitis, the pathogen Porphyromonas gingivalis, was present in the brains of patients who died of Alzheimer’s. Thus, the relationship between this degenerative disease and oral infection that had been announced by other studies from years ago is confirmed.
Production of Alzheimer’s associated protein
Experiments have been carried out with mice that caused mouth infections with the bacteria that reached the brain and this produced amyloid beta peptide (Aβ), the protein associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Although researchers cannot determine the exact origin of this degenerative disease, they do believe that there is a important line of research.
“Infectious agents have been implicated in the development and progression of Alzheimer’s disease, but the evidence for causation was not convincing. Now, for the first time, we have strong evidence connecting the pathogen P. gingivalis and Alzheimer’s“says Stephen Dominy, research coordinator.
The importance of oral hygiene
In addition, the research team identified some toxic enzymes called gingipains secreted by the bacteria in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. And furthermore, they also identified these toxins in the brains of deceased people who were never diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
This fact is important because finding gingipains in people who have never been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s might suggest that could have developed the disease if they had lived longer.
“Our identification of gingipain antigens in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease and also with pathology of this disease but without having been diagnosed with dementia, maintains that brain infection with Porphyromonas gingivalis not the result of poor dental care after from the onset of dementia or a consequence of the disease, but rather an early event that can explain the pathology found in middle-aged people before cognitive decline, “the authors point out.