Is periodontitis the origin of rheumatoid arthritis?

Is periodontitis the origin of rheumatoid arthritis?

  • Admin By: Admin
  • Posted: 12 Jul 2019

Periodontitis or 'gum disease', commonly known as 'pyorrhea', is a condition primarily characterized by inflammation and bleeding of the gums. A periodontitis that, in addition to causing the destruction of the bone mass that supports the teeth and, therefore, causing the loss of teeth, is associated with an increased risk of very serious and potentially fatal diseases, especially in the case of cardiovascular diseases and different types of cancer. And also, of rheumatoid arthritis. In fact, different studies have suggested that, in reality, periodontitis triggers the onset of rheumatoid arthritis. But is there really a 'cause and effect' relationship between gum disease and arthritis? Well, according to a study carried out by researchers at the Center for Biomedical Research at the University of Leeds (United Kingdom), it seems that yes.

 

As explained by Kulveer Mankia, director of this research presented in the framework of the 2018 Annual Meeting of the European League against Rheumatism (EULAR) held in Amsterdam (Netherlands), «it has been shown that antibodies associated with rheumatoid arthritis, of antibodies against citrullinated proteins, are present long before there is any evidence of joint damage. A reality that suggests that the origin of these antibodies comes from a place outside the joints ».

 

Causal relationship?

Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory disease that, mainly characterized by pain and progressive degeneration of the joints, suffers more than 200,000 people in our country, especially over 40 years and, in three out of four cases, women. A pathology that, likewise, is encompassed in the so-called 'autoimmune diseases', that is, in which the immune system attacks the body itself - in this particular case, the joints. But there is still more: the inflammatory processes of rheumatoid arthritis also affect other organs of the body, such as the heart or lungs. However, and as with the vast majority, if not all, of autoimmune diseases, the cause that triggers their appearance is still unknown.

 

 

In this context, it is well known that patients with rheumatoid arthritis have a higher prevalence of periodontitis. The reason is explained because autoimmunity in rheumatoid arthritis is characterized by the presence of antibodies against citrullinated proteins. And as far as is known, the only human pathogen capable of expressing an enzyme that generates citrullinated proteins is 'Porphyromonas gingivalis', a bacterium that inhabits the oral cavity and is responsible for the appearance of gum disease. Such is the case that many researchers have thought that periodontitis itself could be behind the autoimmunity that gives rise to rheumatoid arthritis.

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