Gingivitis bacteria manipulate your immune system so they can thrive in your gums

A new research report published in the Journal of Leukocyte Biology shows how the bacteria known for causing gum disease—Porphyromonas gingivalis—manipulates the body's immune system to disable normal processes that would otherwise destroy it. Specifically, the report shows that this pathogen prompts the production of the anti-inflammatory molecule Interleukin-10 (IL-10). This, in turn, inhibits the function of T-cells, which would otherwise help to protect the host from this particular microbial infection.

"Since greater than 50 percent of the U.S. population over 50 years-of-age develop adult periodontal disease, we hope that the results of our study will ultimately help in the development of novel treatments that could prevent or ameliorate the chronic infection caused by the pathogen P. gingivalis,'" said Jannet Katz, D.D.S., Ph.D., a researcher involved in the work from the Department of at the University of Alabama in Birmingham.

To make this discovery, scientists used cells from mice that were exposed to P. gingivalis. One portion of the cells was treated with an inhibiting antibody against IL-10 and the other portion of cells was not treated. All of the cells were then tested for interferon gamma production. An increase of production was seen in the treated cells, but no increase was found in the untreated cells. These findings suggest that the damage done by P. gingivalis happens when the of the host are first exposed to this pathogen, and further implies that for treatment to be successful, it must be started as early as possible. This study highlights the mechanism by which P. gingivalis can establish a chronic infection in the form of periodontal disease and provides insight into how the disease develops. Results also demonstrate the importance of very early intervention either by eradication of the bacterium with specifically designed therapeutics or by prevention via the development of an effective vaccine.

"Gum diseases and the infections that cause them can be incredibly stubborn and difficult to treat," said John Wherry, Ph.D., Deputy Editor of the . "What isn't as well known is why these infections are so difficult to eradicate. These new studies now demonstrate that these bacteria go beyond merely evading our body's defenses and actually manipulate our immune systems for their own survival."

More information: Dalia E. Gaddis, Craig L. Maynard, Casey T. Weaver, Suzanne M. Michalek, and Jannet Katz. Role of TLR2-dependent IL-10 production in the inhibition of the initial IFN-γ T cell response to Porphyromonas gingivalis. J. Leukoc. Biol. January 2013 93:21-31; doi:10.1189/jlb.0512220

Related Stories

New discovery related to gum disease

Sep 11, 2012

A University of Louisville scientist has found a way to prevent inflammation and bone loss surrounding the teeth by blocking a natural signaling pathway of the enzyme GSK3b, which plays an important role in directing the ...

Closer to an effective treatment for gum disease in smokers

May 11, 2009

Scientists in the USA have discovered why smokers may be more prone to chronic gum disease (periodontitis). One of the bacteria responsible for this infection responds to cigarette smoke - changing its properties and the ...

Can periodontal disease act as a risk factor for HIV-1?

Apr 03, 2009

Today, during the 87th General Session of the International Association for Dental Research, convening at the Miami Beach Convention Center, a group of scientists from Nihon University (Tokyo, Japan) will present findings ...

Recommended for you

Mutating Ebola viruses not as scary as evolving ones

20 minutes ago

My social media accounts today are cluttered with stories about "mutating" Ebola viruses. The usually excellent ScienceAlert, for example, rather breathlessly informs us "The Ebola virus is mutating faster in humans than in animal hosts ...

War between bacteria and phages benefits humans

1 hour ago

In the battle between our immune systems and cholera bacteria, humans may have an unknown ally in bacteria-killing viruses known as phages. In a new study, researchers from Tufts University, Massachusetts ...

Ebola kills 31 people in DR Congo: WHO

2 hours ago

An outbreak of the Ebola virus in the Democratic Republic of Congo has killed 31 people and the epidemic remains contained in a remote northwestern region, UN the World Health Organization (WHO) said Tuesday.

Dengue fever strikes models in Japan

5 hours ago

A worsening outbreak of dengue fever in Japan has claimed its first celebrities—two young models sent on assignment to the Tokyo park believed to be its source.

Japanese researchers develop 30-minute Ebola test

5 hours ago

Japanese researchers said Tuesday they had developed a new method to detect the presence of the Ebola virus in 30 minutes, with technology that could allow doctors to quickly diagnose infection.

Senegal monitors contacts of 1st Ebola patient

17 hours ago

Senegalese authorities on Monday were monitoring everyone who was in contact with a student infected with Ebola who crossed into the country, and who has lost three family members to the disease.

User comments