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Smile: Gingivitis Bacteria Manipulate Your Immune System So They Can Thrive in Your Gums

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. Specifically, the report shows that this pathogen prompts the production of the anti-inflammatory molecule Interleukin-10 (IL-10). This, in turn, inhibits the function of T-cells, which would otherwise help to protect the host from this particular microbial infection.

"Since greater than 50 percent of the U.S. population over 50 years-of-age develop adult periodontal disease, we hope that the results of our study will ultimately help in the development of novel treatments that could prevent or ameliorate the chronic infection caused by the pathogen P. gingivalis,'" said Jannet Katz, D.D.S., Ph.D., a researcher involved in the work from the Department of Pediatric Dentistry at the University of Alabama in Birmingham.
 
 

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