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Study Links Acid Produced From Gum Disease With HIV

February 13, 2009

A recent study conducted by researchers in Japan found that an acid produced in the mouth because of gum disease might promote the progression of HIV, AFP/Yahoo! News reports. According to the researchers, the study, which will be published in the March issue of the Journal of Immunology, marks the first time a link has been discovered between gum disease and HIV, although previous research has linked gum disease with diabetes and heart disease. According to study author Kuniyasu Ochiai of Nihon University, butyric acid -- produced by a group of bacteria that causes periodontal disease --hinders an enzyme called HDAC, which blocks HIV from proliferating. Takashi Okamoto, molecular biology professor in central Japan's Nagoya City University, and Kenichi Imai, a research assistant at the university, also participated in the study.

Through in-vitro experiments, the researchers found that HIV quickly proliferated in two kinds of immune system-related cells after they were given culture fluid containing the gum disease-causing bacteria and butyric acid. Ochiai said, "Serious periodontal disease could lead to the development (of AIDS) among HIV-positive people ... although the probability largely depends on individual physical strength." He adds that there are "fears that even those [who] were unaware that they had contracted HIV could develop the epidemic once they have periodontal disease." The research team intends to confirm their finding in animal tests, Ochiai said (AFP/Yahoo! News, 2/11).

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