Research in Focus
NYUCD Study Links Immune Response to Common Mouth Bacteria to Alzheimer's

Dr. Mony de Leon, left, with
Dr. Angela R. Kamer

A new one-year study by NYUCD 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's paper, "Periodontal bacterial antibodies may help discriminate between Alzheimer's disease and normal patients - A pilot study," was presented at the Alzheimer's Association's International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease 2008, in Chicago. Dr. Kamer's study examined 18 patients with probable AD and a control group of 16 who did not have the disease.

"Biological markers for AD are essential for early treatment intervention," explains Dr. Kamer. "We hypothesized that AD patients have elevated antibody titers to periodontal bacteria compared to control subjects who do not have the disease," said Dr. Kamer.

"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 patient and controls," said Dr. Mony de Leon, Professor of Psychiatry and Director of the Center for Brain Health at the NYU School of Medicine (NYUSOM).

Ongoing longitudinal studies at the NYUSOM Center for Brain Health directed by Dr. de Leon are actively working to validate these new markers and test how early in the course of AD they can be found, explained Dr. Kamer.

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. Because 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 explain the causes and mechanisms of AD.

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

Dr. Kamer's NYUCD 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. de Leon, Dr. Lidia Glodzik-Sobanska, and Dr. Miroslaw Brys.