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.
It does this by stimulating the production of Interleukin-10, an anti-inflammatory molecule. Normally, T-cells would help defend against P. gingivalis, but IL-10 inhibits their function, leaving the microbes free to do their microbial thing: colonize and multiply.
“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 Journal of Leukocyte Biology. “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.”
And this suggests why care of the biological terrain – the foundation of the body’s self-regulating functions (and, thus, immune function) – and good oral hygiene go together. While the terrain is the ultimate factor in all health matters, awareness of how microbes act (and react and evolve for the sake of their own self-preservation) means the old standbys of brushing, flossing and the rest remain as important as ever.
Like all healthful choices, they’re part and parcel of maintaining a healthy, well-ordered terrain.
Image via pgingivalis.org