Closer to an effective treatment for gum disease in smokers

May 11, 2009

Scientists in the USA have discovered why smokers may be more prone to chronic gum disease (periodontitis). One of the bacteria responsible for this infection responds to cigarette smoke - changing its properties and the way it infects a smokers mouth.

The study published recently in the Society for Applied Microbiology journal Environmental Microbiology, showed that the bacterium Porphyromonas gingivalis adapts and changes its DNA and membrane proteins in response to cigarette smoke.

Several genes of P. gingivalis associated with its virulence (infectivity), detoxification, oxidative stress mechanisms and DNA repair are altered by exposure to cigarette smoke. As a result, the expression of a number of the proteins in the cell membrane is changed. This affects important characteristics of the themselves and how the immune system recognizes this pathogen.

This could explain why are more likely to be resistant to treatment for periodontitis and are more susceptible to oral disease caused by infection with P. gingivalis.

Finding an effective treatment for smokers infected with P. gingivalis will be easier now that these changes in the bacterium's 'properties' have been identified.

University of Louisville researcher, Dr David Scott said: "It has long been known that smokers are more susceptible to periodontitis than are non-smokers. However, the reasons why are not so clear. Our study shows, for the first time, that components in alter key characteristics of a major which, subsequently, changes how our immune system reacts to it. It may turn out that we need to develop alternate treatment plans for smokers and non-smokers".

Source: Wiley (news : web)

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User comments : 1

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OBSL33t
not rated yet May 13, 2009
I have a treatment idea.
How about not smoking?
It could work.
Side effects of this treatment may include;
decent smelling breath, an absense of the typical ash and dirt smell usually associated with smoking,
and a return of your sense of smell.
;p

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