Researchers Investigate Possible Link Between Oral Infections and Alzheimer’s
Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, and the only cause of mortality among the top 10 that cannot be prevented, cured or slowed.
Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, and the only cause of mortality among the top 10 that cannot be prevented, cured or slowed. Researchers have long sought to pinpoint a diagnostic biomarker of Alzheimer’s — a disease that progresses uniquely in each individual. While study of its etiology is ongoing, an international team is investigating a possible link with the oral microbiome.
Norwegian researcher Ingar Olsen, DDS, PhD, from the University of Oslo, and Sim K. Singhrao, PhD, of the University of Central Lancashire in Preston, England, reviewed more than 200 papers that suggested an association between oral infections and Alzheimer’s. Their analysis, “Can Oral Infection be a Risk Factor for Alzheimer’s Disease?” published in the Journal of Oral Microbiology, concludes that inflammation — a characteristic feature of the condition’s neuropathology — might play a key role. They suggest that periodontal infections can transfer into the bloodstream. If such pathogens make it to the brains of patients with genetic and environmental risk factors, the expressed microorganisms may lead to Alzheimer’s. Olsen points out that while two oral microbes — spirochetes and Porphyromonas gingivalis — are commonly linked to Alzheimer’s disease, any inflammation- inducing oral bacteria have the potential to enter the bloodstream and contribute to health issues.