Gum Disease Bacteria may Facilitate Rheumatoid Arthritis

As stated over on the risks of keeping wisdom teeth page, gum disease (periodontal disease) has been shown to have associations with many different systemic diseases. One such systemic disease is rheumatoid arthritis (RA). So far, any mechanism has remained elusive.

In a recent study appearing in PLoS Pathogens, researchers at the University of Louisville School of Dentistry Oral Health and Systemic Diseases and other researchers from the European Union’s Gums and Joints project have uncovered how the bacteria responsible for periodontal disease known as Porphyromonas gingivalis effects rheumatoid arthritis. The researchers showed that this bacteria leads to faster progression, greater severity and earlier onset of RA and can cause bone and cartilage destruction.

The researchers found the bacteria produces a unique enzyme, peptidylarginine deiminanse (PAD), which enhances collagen-induced arthritis (CIA), which is an arthritis produced in the lab designed to mimic RA. PAD changes residues of some proteins into citrulline that the body recognizes as intruders which leads to an immune attack. In RA patients, this leads to chronic inflammation which causes  bone and cartilage destruction in joints. Another oral bacteria known as Prevotella intermedia was also studied by did not produce this response to PAD as Porphyromonas gingivalis did.

The researchers suggest that their results may show the mechanism between Porphyromonas gingivalis which occurs during periodontal disease and later rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Of course they suggest that other studies reach similar conclusions.

Other studies which have found an association between periodontal disease and rheumatoid arthritis have shown that periodontal disease is at least twice as likely in rheumatoid arthritis patients.

For those looking for other posts on periodontal disease I suggest reading this post Oral Bacteria That Causes Periodontitis Delievers a One-Two Punch in which several other posts are also referred to. In this particular post researchers said that the bacteria that causes periodontal disease is known as NI1060.


Katarzyna J. Maresz, and et. al, Porphyromonas gingivalis Facilitates the Development and Progression of Destructive Arthritis through Its Unique Bacterial Peptidylarginine Deiminase (PAD), PLoS Pathogens, vol 9., no. 9, 2013.

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