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According to latest research, Fusobacterium nucleatum, a common bacterium found in the oral cavity, can break the bond of cells on the surface of blood vessels, thereby allowing other bacteria to enter the human body. (DTI/ Photo courtesy of bikerinlondon/shutterstock)
Dec 20, 2011 | News USA

Oral bacteria could be responsible for foodborne infection

by Dental Tribune International

CLEVELAND, Ohio, USA: A discovery by researchers at Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) in Cleveland could help to explain the origins of foodborne infections like the recent enterohaemorrhagic Escherichia coli (E. coli) outbreak in Europe. Following years of research on Fusobacterium nucleatum, they found that the oral bacteria can break the bond of cells on the surface of blood vessels, thereby allowing other bacteria to enter the human body.

Like Streptococcus mutans, the main cause for dental caries, Fusobacterium nucleatum is a common bacterium found in the oral cavity. According to latest research, it is associated with periodontal inflammation, among other things. The researchers found that F. nucleatum has a bonding agent that can cause endothelial cells on the surface of blood vessels to break apart through a cascade of biological signals.

"This cascade knocks out the guard on duty and allows the bacteria to enter the blood and travel like a bus loaded with riders throughout the system," Yiping W. Han, main researcher and CWRU professor of periodontics, said. "Whenever the F. mucleatum wants to get off the bus at the liver, brain, spleen, or another place, it does."

According to Han, the cell bond did not break apart in laboratory tests when E. coli bacteria alone were introduced. Instead, the E. coli bacteria were only able to penetrate the vessel surface following the application of F. nucleatum.

Han’s findings, which are presented in the latest issue of Molecular Microbiology, could help to not only explain the origins of different medical phenomena such as fetal death, but could also explain the outbreak of infections caused by harmful bacteria.
Recently, an outbreak involving a highly infectious strain of E. coli claimed at least 53 lives in Germany and other parts of Europe.

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