Now, researchers have discovered a new link between gum disease and heart disease that may help find ways to save lives, scientists heard today (Tuesday 9 September 2008) at the Society for General Microbiology's Autumn meeting being held this week at Trinity College, Dublin.
In recent years chronic infections have been associated with a disease that causes "furring" of the arteries, called atherosclerosis, which is the main cause of heart attacks. Gum disease is one of the most common infections of humans and there are now over 50 studies linking gum disease with heart disease and stroke.
"A number of theories have been put forward to explain the link between oral infection and heart disease," said Professor Greg Seymour from the University of Otago Dunedin, New Zealand. "One of these is that certain proteins from bacteria initiate atherosclerosis and help it progress. We wanted to see if this is the case, so we looked at the role of heat shock proteins."
Heat shock proteins are produced by bacteria as well as animals and plants. They are produced after cells are exposed to different kinds of stress conditions, such as inflammation, toxins, starvation and oxygen and water deprivation. Because of this, heat shock proteins are also referred to as stress proteins. They can work as chaperone molecules, stabilising other proteins, helping to fold them and transport them across cell membranes. Some also bind to foreign antigens and present them to immune cells.
Because heat shock proteins are produced by humans as well as bacteria, the immune system may not be able to differentiate between those from the body and those from invading pathogens. This can lead the immune system to launch an attack on its own proteins. "When this happens, white blood cells can build up in the tissues of the arteries, causing atherosclerosis," said Professor Seymour.
"We found white blood cells called T cells in the lesions of arteries in patients affected by atherosclerosis. These T cells were able to bind to host heat shock proteins as well as those from bacteria that cause gum disease. This suggests that the similarity between the proteins could be the link between oral infection and atherosclerosis," said Professor Seymour.
This molecular mimicry means that when the immune system reacts to oral infection, it also attacks host proteins, causing arterial disease. These findings could fundamentally change health policy, highlighting the importance of adult oral health to overall health and wellbeing: control of gum disease should be essential in reducing the risk of heart disease.
"This is a significant step towards a more complete understanding of heart disease and improving treatment and preventive therapies," said Professor Seymour. "An understanding of all the possible risk factors could help lower the risk of developing heart disease and lead to a significant change in disease burden."
Lucy Goodchild | alfa
Study suggests possible new target for treating and preventing Alzheimer's
02.12.2016 | Oregon Health & Science University
The first analysis of Ewing's sarcoma methyloma opens doors to new treatments
01.12.2016 | IDIBELL-Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water
In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...
The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering
02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy