Researchers have discovered a bacteria responsible for periodontal disease facilitates the development and progression of rheumatoid arthritis. Dr. Jan Potempa PhD, DSc from the University of Louisville, School of Dentistry Oral Health and Systemic Disease and her research group, have found Porphyromonas gingivalis produces an unique enzyme, peptidylarginine deiminase (PAD) which enhances collagen induced arthritis (CIA). The proteins affected by PAD changes to citrulline, which then causes the body to mount an auto-immune response as it considers the citrullinated proteins as “intruders”. This chronic inflammatory response causes cartilage and bone damage, as seen in Rheumatoid Arthritis. “Taken together, our results suggest that bacterial PAD may constitute the mechanistic link between P. gingivalis periodontal infection and rheumatoid arthritis, but this ground-breaking conclusion will need to be verified with further research.” said researcher Dr. Potempa.
Published in PLOS Pathogens, Online Sep 12, 2013.