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Perio Bacteria Spur Cancer Growth in Mouth

Case Western Reserve University has found two bacteria prevalent in periodontal disease from small fatty acids that incite growth of deadly Kaposi’s sarcoma (KS) related lesions and tumors in the mouth. Their discovery could be key to the development of testing and preventive treatments. Saliva testing for the bacteria can lead to early treatment and monitoring for signs of KS before malignancy develops. The two bacteria associated with periodontal disease are known as Porphyromonas gingivalis and Fusobacterium nucleatum. They are suspected to contribute to the replication of Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) and the development of KS in the mouth. Researchers did a study of a saliva sample with two different groups, one had severe chronic periodontal disease and the other had healthy gums, practiced good oral health and showed no signs of bleeding or tooth loss from periodontal disease. “The most important thing to come out of this study is that we believe periodontal disease is a risk factor for Kaposi sarcoma tumor in HIV patients,” said Fengchun Ye, PhD, the study’s lead investigator. The study did not show that people with periodontal disease are actually at a higher risk for developing KS lesions in the mouth.

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See the article, “Short Chain Fatty Acids from Periodontal Pathogens Suppress HDACs, EZH2, and SUV39H1 to Promote Kaposi’s Sarcoma-Associated Herpesvirus Replication,” Feb. 5, 2014, Journal of Virology.