Gum disease-causing bacterium implicated in Alzheimer's disease
Admittedly, this picture of pretty coloured cells may not immediately spur you to brush your teeth, but read on and it just might. The image shows brain cells (yellow and green) and a bacterial toxin (red) in an Alzheimer’s disease afflicted brain. The bacterial culprit is Porphyromonas gingivalis, better known for its role in gum infections. Researchers have discovered that levels of the toxic bacterial proteins are higher in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s than in those of control subjects. Moreover, mice injected with the bacterial proteins were found to suffer neurodegeneration. The good news is, scientists have discovered an inhibitor of the toxin, which, when given to mice, treated P. gingivalis brain infections and prevented brain cell loss. Translating these results into treatments for humans is likely to take time, but meanwhile maintaining good oral hygiene might just help to keep your brain as well your breath fresh.
Today is World Oral Health Day
Written by Ruth Williams
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.
BPoD is also available in Catalan at www.bpod.cat with translations by the University of Valencia.