Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease where the immune system attacks the brain and spinal cord. The disease causes a wide range of neurological symptoms that include muscle weakness, difficulty in moving, difficulty in speech and many other impairing and painful conditions.
While doctors are very clear about the symptoms and processes of autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, they have long been in the dark as to the “tipping” factors, that is the factors that make the body’s immune system start to attack its own tissues. However, some research points to an oral bacteria as a contributing factor to the development of multiple sclerosis. The oral bacteria in question is called Porphyromas gingivalis and is common in humans. It produces a unique type of lipid, which enhances inflammatory responses.
Researchers at the University of Connecticut Health Center have tried to determine whether these lipids play a role in exacerbating autoimmune disease. Results indicated that phosphorylated DHCs from bacteria commonly found in humans may actually trigger or increase the severity of multiple sclerosis and other autoimmune diseases.
Although results like these are indeed good news for those suffering from multiple sclerosis and those at risk of developing the disease, more research is still needed before the research can be used in therapeutic treatment and prevention of multiple sclerosis. For instance, scientists still need to characterize the effects of the oral bacteria on specific cells of the immune system and to identify how and where these lipids are deposited in the body’s different tissues. In addition to triggering and worsening multiple sclerosis, scientists believe that the oral bacteria may have the potential to serve as new markers of multiple sclerosis disease activity and as targets for therapeutic intervention.