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News / August 6, 2013

Gum disease culprit singled out

by Guy Hiscott

The destructive bacterium responsible for periodontitis has been identified by US scientists.
Researchers found that the bacterium in question, called NI1060, also triggers a response that causes normally protective mouth proteins to attack healthy bone in the oral cavity.
Normally, this protein – Nod1 – fights harmful bacteria, but the presence of periodontitis triggers the production of neutrophils and osteoclasts, damaging bone instead.
The identification of NI1060 has been hailed as a ‘major discovery’ by the University of Michigan team responsible.
Yizu Jiao, a postdoctoral fellow at the U-M Health System, and lead author of the study appearing in Cell Host and Microbe said: ‘Nod1 is a part of our protective mechanisms against bacterial infection. It helps us to fight infection by recruiting neutrophils, blood cells that act as bacterial killers.
‘It also removes harmful bacteria during infection. However, in the case of periodontitis, accumulation of NI1060 stimulates Nod1 to trigger neutrophils and osteoclasts, which are cells that destroy bone in the oral cavity.
Professor of dentistry William Giannobile, who alose worked on the study, said: ‘The findings from this study underscore the connection between beneficial and harmful bacteria that normally reside in the oral cavity, how a harmful bacterium causes the disease, and how an at-risk patient might respond to such bacteria.’