A surge of recent research links periodontal disease and Alzheimer’s disease to the extent that periodontal disease is now being considered a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease. There is mounting evidence that both oral pathogens and inflammation associated with periodontal disease play a key role in the pathways of progression of this devastating disease.
Research presented in the April 2014 issue of Biosciences, Biotechnology Research Asia elaborates on the specific pathways by which periodontal inflammation and infection appear to influence the development and progression of Alzheimer’s disease:
- Bacteria can enter the bloodstream from the mouth.
- The bacteria cause systemic inflammatory cytokines (inflammation), which impacts Alzheimer’s disease
- P. gingivalis plays a role in thrombus formation, which affects the inflammatory pathways of cardiovascular disease and stroke (both risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease).
- Oral pathogens can travel directly from the mouth to the brain.
- Genetic predisposition can exacerbate the inflammatory effects
The pathways by which periodontal bacteria and inflammation may affect Alzheimer’s disease progression are not always direct. But this breakdown shows that there is good reason to pay attention to periodontal disease and its microbial components.
It is plausible that the pathogenic bacteria of oral biofilm play a two-sided role: oral spirochetes appear to have a direct impact and other oral pathogens (e.g. P. gingivalis and C. pneumoniae) play an additive role through the inflammatory process, which also appears to contribute to the degeneration of brain tissue.