Mouth as the gateway to your body

After cleaning your mouth, plaque begins forming before your brush even hits the cup.

A key to , said Yiping W. Han, a professor of periodontics at Case Western Reserve University is one of the most abundant and persistent that inhabits the mouth, Fusobacterium nucleatum.

She's found that the bacterium not only helps contagions attacking your teeth and gums but enables disease and infection to spread throughout the body.

Han's research is in the upcoming book, Oral : Genomic Inquiry and Interspecies Communication, edited by Paul E. Kolenbrander, which will be published later this year.

One of the most common oral diseases is gingivitis and one of the main causes of gingivitis is the formation of plaque, which is facilitated by F. nucleatum. The presence of F. nucleatum can increase infection rate of gingivitis by a factor of two or more.

Other diseases caused by or enabled by the bacteria, include periodontitis, peritonsillar, and orofacial abscesses.

But, the damage is not solely localized in the mouth. From the mouth F. nucleatum can travel through the bloodstream and invade other organs.

Through oral diseases, F. nucleatum can get into the bloodstream and cause , including miscarriage, , and stillbirth. The bacteria colonize in amniotic fluid, which stimulates an inflammatory response that harms the fetus.

This bacterium is also found in lung, liver, spleen, blood, abdominal, and obstetrical and gynecological abscesses and infections.

Han explains that "attachment is the very first step…. and Fusobacterium adhesion A (FadA) was found to be involved in binding."

Binding is a crucial step for establishing an infection in the mouth and the body.
Han found that a galactose-binding lectin is involved in the attachment process.

Invasion also requires the involvement of actins, microtubules, signal transduction, protein synthesis, and energy metabolism of the epithelial cell. Invasion is a way bacteria gain entry to the host cell and resides close to the cell's membranes.

During oral infection, the bacteria can increase in number as much as 10,000 times, making it one of the dominant anaerobic species in the disease site.

Bacteria do not colonize the mouth randomly. Colonization is well organized and occurs in predictable successions. The mouth will be inhabited by the first bacteria colonizer followed by the second until it is colonized by F. nucleatum.

This process facilitates the formation of a bioflim, which helps the bacteria colonies adhere to the surface of the teeth.

"It's like the cream in an Oreo cookie, which holds the parts in place," Han explains.

F. nucleatum interacts with a number of other bacteria and facilitates their invasion of the host's epithelial and endothelial cells. They evade the host immune system and bind to a variety of host cells to be used to transport bacteria into deeper tissues.

By knowing the attachment process and how this bacterium binds, we can develop more effective drugs, Han said. But, more research is needed to determine the exact role F. nucleatum plays and the mechanism that enables it to interact with other bacteria.

As for now, Han suggests that we "brush, floss, and see a dentist."

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Types of flu shots explained

Oct 16, 2014

Flu season is approaching and with that comes the annual reminder to get a flu shot. But it's more complicated than a simple recommendation. How do we know which of the available influenza vaccines to get, and when? UConn ...

Combatting periodontal pathogens

Oct 01, 2014

A total 12 million Germans suffer from periodontitis. If the inflammation remains untreated, this could lead to tooth loss. However, it is also suspected of triggering many other diseases, like cardiopulmonary ...

Recommended for you

Using feminist theory to understand male rape

1 hour ago

Decades of feminist research have framed rape and sexual assault as a 'women's issue', leaving little room for the experiences of male victims. But a new study published in the Journal of Gender Studies suggests that feminist ...

Simulation-based training improves endoscopy execution

Oct 18, 2014

(HealthDay)—Simulation-based training (SBT) improves clinicians' performance of gastrointestinal endoscopy in both test settings and clinical practice, according to research published in the October issue ...

Data sharing in pharmaceutical industry shows progress

Oct 16, 2014

To enhance the transparency of clinical trials for new drugs, a number of pharmaceutical firms have begun sharing data with investigators outside their own companies. Brian L. Strom, chancellor of Rutgers Biomedical and Health ...

Swiss drug maker Roche posts flat 3Q sales

Oct 16, 2014

(AP)—Swiss drugmaker Roche Holding AG has reported "stable" or flat sales for the first nine months of 2013 but says the results show strong demand for its cancer drugs and emerging new products.

User comments