Nav: Home

Mouth as the gateway to your body

April 26, 2011

After cleaning your mouth, plaque begins forming before your brush even hits the cup.

A key to plaque formation, said Yiping W. Han, a professor of periodontics at Case Western Reserve University is one of the most abundant and persistent bacterium that inhabits the mouth, Fusobacterium nucleatum,

She's found that the bacterium not only helps contagions attacking your teeth and gums but enables disease and infection to spread throughout the body.

Han's research is in the upcoming book, Oral Microbial Communities: Genomic Inquiry and Interspecies Communication, edited by Paul E. Kolenbrander, which will be published later this year.

One of the most common oral diseases is gingivitis and one of the main causes of gingivitis is the formation of plaque, which is facilitated by F. nucleatum. The presence of F. nucleatum can increase infection rate of gingivitis by a factor of two or more.

Other diseases caused by or enabled by the bacteria, include periodontitis, peritonsillar, and orofacial abscesses.

But, the damage is not solely localized in the mouth. From the mouth F. nucleatum can travel through the bloodstream and invade other organs.

Through oral diseases, F. nucleatum can get into the bloodstream and cause pregnancy complications, including miscarriage, preterm birth, and stillbirth. The bacteria colonize in amniotic fluid, which stimulates an inflammatory response that harms the fetus.

This bacterium is also found in lung, liver, spleen, blood, abdominal, and obstetrical and gynecological abscesses and infections.

Han explains that "attachment is the very first step.... and Fusobacterium adhesion A (FadA) was found to be involved in binding."

Binding is a crucial step for establishing an infection in the mouth and the body. Han found that a galactose-binding lectin is involved in the attachment process.

Invasion also requires the involvement of actins, microtubules, signal transduction, protein synthesis, and energy metabolism of the epithelial cell. Invasion is a way bacteria gain entry to the host cell and resides close to the cell's membranes.

During oral infection, the bacteria can increase in number as much as 10,000 times, making it one of the dominant anaerobic species in the disease site.

Bacteria do not colonize the mouth randomly. Colonization is well organized and occurs in predictable successions. The mouth will be inhabited by the first bacteria colonizer followed by the second until it is colonized by F. nucleatum.

This process facilitates the formation of a bioflim, which helps the bacteria colonies adhere to the surface of the teeth.

"It's like the cream in an Oreo cookie, which holds the parts in place," Han explains.

F. nucleatum interacts with a number of other bacteria and facilitates their invasion of the host's epithelial and endothelial cells. They evade the host immune system and bind to a variety of host cells to be used to transport bacteria into deeper tissues.

By knowing the attachment process and how this bacterium binds, we can develop more effective drugs, Han said. But, more research is needed to determine the exact role F. nucleatum plays and the mechanism that enables it to interact with other bacteria.

As for now, Han suggests that we "brush, floss, and see a dentist."
-end-
Release prepared by David Huang, Case Western Reserve University

Case Western Reserve University

Related Bacteria Articles:

Bacteria must be 'stressed out' to divide
Bacterial cell division is controlled by both enzymatic activity and mechanical forces, which work together to control its timing and location, a new study from EPFL finds.
How bees live with bacteria
More than 90 percent of all bee species are not organized in colonies, but fight their way through life alone.
The bacteria building your baby
Australian researchers have laid to rest a longstanding controversy: is the womb sterile?
Detecting bacteria in space
A new genomic approach provides a glimpse into the diverse bacterial ecosystem on the International Space Station.
Hopping bacteria
Scientists have long known that key models of bacterial movement in real-world conditions are flawed.
Bacteria uses viral weapon against other bacteria
Bacterial cells use both a virus -- traditionally thought to be an enemy -- and a prehistoric viral protein to kill other bacteria that competes with it for food according to an international team of researchers who believe this has potential implications for future infectious disease treatment.
Drug diversity in bacteria
Bacteria produce a cocktail of various bioactive natural products in order to survive in hostile environments with competing (micro)organisms.
Bacteria walk (a bit) like we do
EPFL biophysicists have been able to directly study the way bacteria move on surfaces, revealing a molecular machinery reminiscent of motor reflexes.
Using bacteria to create a water filter that kills bacteria
Engineers have created a bacteria-filtering membrane using graphene oxide and bacterial nanocellulose.
Probiotics are not always 'good bacteria'
Researchers from the Cockrell School of Engineering were able to shed light on a part of the human body - the digestive system -- where many questions remain unanswered.
More Bacteria News and Bacteria Current Events

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2019.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Accessing Better Health
Essential health care is a right, not a privilege ... or is it? This hour, TED speakers explore how we can give everyone access to a healthier way of life, despite who you are or where you live. Guests include physician Raj Panjabi, former NYC health commissioner Mary Bassett, researcher Michael Hendryx, and neuroscientist Rachel Wurzman.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#544 Prosperity Without Growth
The societies we live in are organised around growth, objects, and driving forward a constantly expanding economy as benchmarks of success and prosperity. But this growing consumption at all costs is at odds with our understanding of what our planet can support. How do we lower the environmental impact of economic activity? How do we redefine success and prosperity separate from GDP, which politicians and governments have focused on for decades? We speak with ecological economist Tim Jackson, Professor of Sustainable Development at the University of Surrey, Director of the Centre for the Understanding of Sustainable Propserity, and author of...
Now Playing: Radiolab

An Announcement from Radiolab