Stopping harmful oral bacteria in its path

Jul 14, 2009

The best way to keep bacteria from doing any damage is to stop them in their tracks before they can start down their pathological road to destruction.

Yiping Han, associate professor at the Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine, aims to understand how to build roadblocks for a common bacterium that's harmless in a mother's mouth but can turn deadly when it reaches an unborn child. She has received a five-year, $1.85 million grant from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) at the National Institutes of Health to fund the effort.

This is Han's second NIDCR RO1 award. She's published more than 10 papers from previous research related to the bacterium, Fusobacterium nucleatum, that creates havoc once it leaves the mouth and enters the blood stream.

She has discovered an adhesin protein molecule, called FadA, in the genes of F. nucleatum. This adhesin, or binding agent, on the allows them to connect with receptors on epithelial cells in the mouth and later the of the placenta.

In tests, bacteria without FadA had less binding capability compared to those with the adhesin, Han and a team of researchers report on this finding in the July issue of the journal and Immunity.

"With this new grant, we will be able to continue a functional analysis of FadA," said Han. Her research group will look not only at the binding agent but the receptors on the host epithelial and endothelial cells that promote the binding of the oral bacteria.

"In some way, the receptors on the host cell activate a signal that puts into action a cascade of processes that allow the bacteria to penetrate the epithelial and endothelial linings and then colonize," explains Han.

"We want to block the bacteria before it can do any damage," Han says. "It's an upstream approach to go back to where the whole process begins and stop it from starting its destruction."

Once it leaves the mouth, the invasion of the bacteria through the placenta allows the bacteria to multiple rapidly in the immune-free environment that protects the fetus from being rejected by the mother's body. The rapid bacterial growth causes the placenta to become inflamed. In turn, the inflammation can trigger preterm birth and fetal death.

According to Han this research into the mechanisms of bacterial transport not only has potential to prevent preterm and stillborn births, it may have implications in preventing periodontal disease. Periodontal disease has been linked to such health problem as arthritis, diabetes and heart disease.

Source: Case Western Reserve University (news : web)

Explore further: Growing a blood vessel in a week

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Inflammation may cause preterm labor and fetal deaths

Aug 08, 2007

Inflammation from bacterial infections is linked to preterm births and deaths, according to researchers from Case Western Reserve University’s School of Dental Medicine and the Case School of Medicine. They found if receptors ...

New bacterial species found in human mouth

Aug 11, 2008

Scientists have discovered a new species of bacteria in the mouth. The finding could help scientists to understand tooth decay and gum disease and may lead to better treatments, according to research published in the August ...

New research aims to eliminate Streptococcus infections

Mar 06, 2008

Professor Howard Jenkinson in the Department of Oral & Dental Science (Dental School) has been awarded a grant of £285,000 from The Wellcome Trust to research ways to combat diseases caused by Streptococcus ...

Scientists decode genome of oral pathogen

Apr 05, 2007

Virginia Commonwealth University researchers have decoded the genome of a bacteria normally present in the healthy human mouth that can cause a deadly heart infection if it enters the bloodstream.

Recommended for you

Growing a blood vessel in a week

9 hours ago

The technology for creating new tissues from stem cells has taken a giant leap forward. Three tablespoons of blood are all that is needed to grow a brand new blood vessel in just seven days. This is shown ...

Testing time for stem cells

12 hours ago

DefiniGEN is one of the first commercial opportunities to arise from Cambridge's expertise in stem cell research. Here, we look at some of the fundamental research that enables it to supply liver and pancreatic ...

Team finds key signaling pathway in cause of preeclampsia

Oct 23, 2014

A team of researchers led by a Wayne State University School of Medicine associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology has published findings that provide novel insight into the cause of preeclampsia, the leading cause ...

Rapid test to diagnose severe sepsis

Oct 23, 2014

A new test, developed by University of British Columbia researchers, could help physicians predict within an hour if a patient will develop severe sepsis so they can begin treatment immediately.

User comments : 0