An interesting article appears in the Journal of Leukocyte Biology discussing how the bacteria known for causing gum disease–Porphyromonas gingivalis–can manipulate the immune system to disable normal processes that would otherwise destroy it.The article talks about how this bacteria causes the anti-inflammatory molecule Interleukin-10 (IL-10) which inhibits the function of T-cells which would otherwise help to fight off the bacteria.
The researchers discuss how it is important to understand how gingivitis bacteria affect the immune system since more than 50% of adults over 50 in the U.S. develop periodontal disease. The researchers used cells from mice that were exposed to Porphyromonas gingivalis and had some of them treated with an inhibiting antibody against IL-10 and the other portion of cells was not treated. The cells were then tested for interferon gamma production. The researchers found that an increase of interferon gamma production was seen in the treated cells, however no increase was found in the untreated cells.
This study illustrates the mechanism by which Porphyromonas gingivalis can establish a chronic infection in the form of periodontal disease and the progression of the disease. Researchers believe that early intervention can help eradicate the bacteria and is important for possible designed therapeutics or developed vaccines.
Results also demonstrate the importance of very early intervention either by eradication of the bacterium with specifically designed therapeutics or by prevention via the development of an effective vaccine. Hence, the conclusion of the study is that these gingivitis bacteria will actually manipulate the immune system in order to survive.
Source: D. E. Gaddis and et. al. “Role of TLR2-dependent IL-10 production in the inhibition of the initial IFN- T cell response to Porphyromonas gingivalis,” Journal of Leukocyte Biology, vol. 93, issue 1, 21 D, 2012.