Porphyromonas gingivalis, the bacterium that is responsible for gum disease also worsens arthritis, say researchers.
University of Louisville School of Dentistry Oral Health and Systemic Diseases group researcher Jan Potempa, PhD, DSc, and an international team of scientists from the European Union's Gums and Joints project found that P. gingivalis produces a unique enzyme, peptidylarginine deiminanse (PAD) which then enhances collagen-induced arthritis (CIA), a form of arthritis similar to RA produced in the lab.
PAD changes residues of certain proteins into citrulline, and the body recognizes citullinated proteins as intruders, leading to an immune attack. In RA patients, the subsequent result is chronic inflammation responsible for bone and cartilage destruction within the joints.
The study has been published in PLoS Pathogens.