The Telegraph (UK) (1/23, Knapton) reports that “gum disease may play a pivotal role in the development of Alzheimer’s disease, scientists believe.” According to the article, “Researchers said they now had ‘solid evidence’ that the bacteria which causes periodontitis produces an enzyme which destroys neurons leading to memory loss.” The article says that the bacteria Porphyromonas gingivalis (P. gingivalis) is “one of the chief causes of gum disease and tooth loss in humans,” and “an international team of researchers tested the brains of 53 people with Alzheimer’s,” finding the bacteria enzyme present in 96 percent.
Science Magazine (1/23, Kaiser) reports that “the provocative findings are the latest in a wave of research suggesting microbial infections may play a role in Alzheimer’s disease.” Still, some scientists question a causal relationship between the bacteria and Alzheimer’s. “I’m fully on board with the idea that this microbe could be a contributing factor. I’m much less convinced that [it] causes Alzheimer’s disease,” says neurobiologist Robert Moir of the Harvard University. The findings were published in Science Advances.