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PPM Commentary: Gum Bacteria Now Linked to RA

New research into a possible pathogen for RA could have significant implications on how researchers now understand the events that lead to RA developing in the body.
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In a recent study, investigators at Johns Hopkins published results suggesting a certain type of bacteria implicated in gum disease could be linked to the pathology of rheumatoid arthritis (RA).1 The study could have significant implications on how researchers now understand the events that lead to RA developing in the body. 

Periodontitis (PD) is an inflammatory disease initiated by a bacterial biofilm on teeth. Characterized by the degradation of the tooth-supporting tissues, PD usually progresses slowly among adults and rapidly in young patients. Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans is strongly associated with the aggressive forms of the disease.2,3 Although it has been theorized that bacteria are involved in the pathogenesis of RA, only recently has the link been established.4

In a recent interview with Practical Pain Management, lead author of the study Felipe Andrade, MD, PhD, commented about the significance of the new findings, as this study marks the first time evidence has been submitted A. actinomycetemcomitans could be a role-player in the pathology of RA. To read the original Practical Pain Management report on the study, click here.

“While our findings suggest that A. actinomycetemcomitans could have a major role in the pathogenesis of RA, this is not the prevailing hypothesis, but a new hypothesis,” Dr. Andrade, who is an associate professor of Medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, told Practical Pain Management. “Indeed, the majority of the research about periodontal disease and RA has been focused on a different bacteria (Porphyromonas gingivalis). It is possible that our work may change this view and move the research in RA toward A. actinomycetemcomitans in the future.”

Could Gum Bacteria Be a Link to RA?

RA is a systemic inflammatory disease characterized by polyarthritis.5 One of many autoimmune diseases, RA is a chronic and progressive inflammatory disease that affects the peripheral joints by causing synovial inflammation due to autoantibodies targeting citrullinated proteins.

Last updated on: March 1, 2017
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Bacteria Found in Gum Disease Linked to RA
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