Gum disease bacteria may be cause of Alzheimer’s

Research: It may be possible to restore memory function in Alzheimer's, preclinical study finds

Recent studies in rodents have found the bacteria do infect regions of the brain affected by Alzheimer's, that gum infections can worsen symptoms in mice genetically engineered to get Alzheimer's, and that gum infections can seemingly lead to brain inflammation and amyloid plaques in previously healthy mice.

New research has suggested that Alzheimer's might be linked to gum disease - after a gum disease bacteria, Porphyromonas gingivalis, was found in the brains of dead patients.

Sarah Marzi, a postdoctoral researcher at Queen Mary University of London, said that the researchers "most promisingly" show changes of NfL predicting cognitive test results and thinning of the cortex, "two main symptoms of Alzheimer's Disease".

It's a sobering thought that in less than a decade more than one million people in this country will be living with dementia - a broad term used to describe different conditions affecting the brain, including Alzheimer's disease.

Researchers from the institute conducted the study in collaboration with neurologists from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and the Huntington Medical Research Institutes in Pasadena.

"The findings of this study offer evidence that P. gingivalis and gingipains in the brain play a central role in the pathogenesis of (Alzheimer's), providing a new conceptual framework for disease treatment", the researchers conclude in the study. The team also examined the cerebrospinal fluid and saliva of 10 patients believed to have Alzheimer's disease, and found the P. gingivalis gene hmuY in seven, and P. gingivalis itself in all of them.

Further, a compound formulated by the company called COR388, which is already going through clinical trials with Alzheimer's patients, showed in experiments with mice that it could reduce bacterial load of an established P. gingivalis brain infection, while also reducing amyloid-beta production and neuroinflammation. It is encouraging to hear that clinical trials are underway, but many drugs which seem promising at first for Alzheimer's disease do not turn out to be safe or effective in human trials. They also discovered the bacterium's DNA in their spinal fluid and toxic enzymes called gingipains, which are produced by the microbe, in their brains. The team also gave the mice a drug that bound to the gingipain enzyme. What's more, autopsies have shown that protein plaques can appear in people who had no Alzheimer's disease. Some studies suggest that the prevalence of dementia might be higher among Hispanics than non-Hispanic whites.

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'In research we've supported to uncover the key risk factors for Alzheimer's disease, gum disease hasn't emerged as a major cause for concern, ' Dr James Pickett, head of research at Alzheimer's Society, said.

The fact that other conditions - like brain damage or multiple sclerosis - will also raise NfL levels complicates the test.

"The idea that bacteria and viruses may play a part in brain disease like Alzheimer's is not necessarily new", Rebecca Edelmayer, Ph.D., director of scientific engagement for the Alzheimer's Association, told CBS News. Although it is not known whether getting adequate sleep will protect against AD, it won't hurt and this along with other data suggests it may even help to delay disease process if it has begun, says Holtzman.

Tau levels were measured in mice and humans with normal and disrupted sleep.

He says it is important to remember that the study was carried out by a company developing gingipain antagonists to treat dementia.

Researchers studied 405 people enrolled in the Dominantly Inherited Alzheimer's Network, an worldwide research program for a rare form of Alzheimer's caused by inherited gene mutations.

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