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

January 3, 2013

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

September 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 ...

Recommended for you

Experimental MERS vaccine shows promise in animal studies

July 28, 2015

A two-step regimen of experimental vaccines against Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) prompted immune responses in mice and rhesus macaques, report National Institutes of Health scientists who designed the vaccines. ...

Can social isolation fuel epidemics?

July 21, 2015

Conventional wisdom has it that the more people stay within their own social groups and avoid others, the less likely it is small disease outbreaks turn into full-blown epidemics. But the conventional wisdom is wrong, according ...

Lack of knowledge on animal disease leaves humans at risk

July 20, 2015

Researchers from the University of Sydney have painted the most detailed picture to date of major infectious diseases shared between wildlife and livestock, and found a huge gap in knowledge about diseases which could spread ...

IBD genetically similar in Europeans and non-Europeans

July 20, 2015

The first genetic study of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) to include individuals from diverse populations has shown that the regions of the genome underlying the disease are consistent around the world. This study, conducted ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.