NYU College of Dentistry Study Links Immune Response for Common Mouth Bacteria to Alzheimers

A new one-year study by New York University College of Dentistry researchers led by Dr. Angela R. Kamer, an Assistant Professor of Periodontology and Implant Dentistry, has established a link between the body’s immune response to a common mouth bacteria and Alzheimer’s disease (AD).

Dr. Kamer recently presented her findings at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference on Alzheimer’s Disease 2008. Dr. Kamer’s study examined 18 patients with probable AD and a control group of 16 who did not have the disease.

“Twice as many subjects with probable AD tested positive for antibodies in their plasma against a type of bacteria that is commonly found in the mouth, particularly if patients have periodontal infection,” said Dr. Kamer. “This pilot study supports a growing body of evidence that associates notable immune changes with a means of predicting and classifying Alzheimer’s disease.”

“Dr. Kamer’s work points to several candidate biological blood markers for AD. Her work has led to a panel of plasma markers that accurately discriminate patients and controls,” said Dr. Mony de Leon, Professor of Psychiatry and Director of the Center for Brain Health at the NYU School of Medicine.

The pre-symptomatic early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease is an essential step in developing strategies to prevent the disease. Effective early detection approaches will require low cost non-invasive tools to afford large-scale population testing and screening for treatment candidates. As many treatments entail medical risks, accurate detection is vital. Together with other AD immune markers, the antibodies to these periodontal bacteria could serve to better understand the causes and mechanisms of AD.

Dr. Kamer and Dr. de Leon plan future studies with additional testing involving larger group of subjects to corroborate this pilot study’s findings.

Dr. Kamer’s NYUCD study collaborators include Dr. Ronald G. Craig, Dr. R.G. Norman, Dr. Ananda P. Dasanayake, Dr. Robert J. Boylan and Andrea Nehorayoff. Collaborators from the NYU School of Medicine include Dr. Lidia Glodzik-Sobanska and Dr. Miroslaw Brys. The NYU work is funded by the National Institutes of Health - National Institute of Aging.

About New York University College of Dentistry Founded in 1865, New York University College of Dentistry (NYUCD) is the third oldest and the largest dental school in the US, educating more than 8 percent of all dentists. NYUCD has a significant global reach and provides a level of national and international diversity among its students that is unmatched by any other dental school.

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