Poor oral care may cause heart disease
Researchers at the University at Buffalo School of Dental Medicine have announced that they will study the mechanisms of Streptococcus gordonii. The bacterium is a normal part of the oral microbiome. It is, however, suspected of causing blood clots and triggering life-threatening endocarditis once it has entered the bloodstream through bleeding gingivae.
“Our white blood cells have a number of ways of destroying invading microbes, but somehow these bacteria manage to escape, sometimes surviving inside the cells meant to kill it. How this occurs is not understood,” research leader Dr. Jason Kay, assistant professor in the Department of Oral Biology, said. “Once we understand how this survival occurs, the knowledge will allow us to develop treatments that prevent normally good bacteria from going bad.”
The study will aim to identify genes that may increase the bacteria’s survival inside the white blood cells by turning off specific genes within the microbes and monitoring the interactions.
In addition, the researchers will examine whether phagocytes that contain and attempt to kill the bacteria are modified or damaged during the killing process, and how the maturation process of white blood cells affects their ability to destroy the bacteria.
Understanding these interactions will help clinicians better prevent one of the causes of infective endocarditis and ultimately lead to new treatments for the disease.