After infecting mice with Porphyromonas gingivalis and measuring the resulting inflammation, researchers with the New York Medical College (NYMC) Department of Pharmacology say they have found a link between obesity and periodontitis.
According to the study, the bacteria worsened the functionality of fat tissue, which has been shown to increase obesity. The researchers also discovered that Kavain, an extract found in the kava plant, could potentially counter chronic inflammation in obese patients.
“Our study uniquely shows that bacteria found solely in the oral cavity has the ability to aggravate obesity,” said lead author Salomon Amar, DDS, PhD, professor of pharmacology, microbiology, and immunology at NYMC and professor of dentistry at the Touro College of Dental Medicine.
“While oral hygiene isn’t the only factor in obesity and weight gain, the combination of better oral habits and the anti-inflammatory properties found in Kavain could reduce the health consequences associated with obesity, a major world epidemic,” said Amar.
“For the first time ever, we found evidence that bacteria can affect fat cells,” said Nader G. Abraham, PhD, DrHC, co-investigator and professor of medicine and pharmacology at NYMC.
“A link between poor oral hygiene and cardiovascular disorders has already been proven by our group, yet many patients don’t visit the dentist regularly. Our study shows another reason that everyone should brush and floss daily, as well as schedule routine dental cleanings,” Abraham said.
The study, “Kavain Reduces Porphyromonas Gingivalis-Induced Adipocyte Inflammation: Role of PGC-1α Signaling,” was published by The Journal of Immunology.
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