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Periodontal disease

Study links blueberries with antibacterial properties

A study by the Universitè Laval in Quebec, Canada has shown Highbush blueberry proanthocyandins (PACs) had a beneficial effect against the type of bacteria that is associated with an aggressive form of periodontal disease. The study was published in the BMC of Complementary and Alternative Medicine. PACs are one type of plant compound that is found in blueberries.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, periodontal diseases are mainly the results of infections and inflammation of the gums and bone that surround and support the teeth. It is caused by bacteria in the mouth that infect tissue surrounding the tooth. This leads to inflammation around the tooth and subsequently periodontal disease. Approximately 47.2% of adults aged 30 years and older have some form of periodontal disease, and 70.1% of adults 65 years and older have periodontal disease.

The study investigators isolated the PACs from frozen highbush blueberries. A test, known as microplate dilution assay, was performed to determine the effect of highbush blueberry PACs on the growth of the bacteria.

Results showed the PACs at concentrations ranging from 500 to 3.9 ug/ml significantly and dose-dependently reduced bacteria formation. The study’s investigators also noted that the antibacterial activity of the PACs appeared to involve damage to the bacterial cell membranes.

The PACs also protected the oral keratinocytes from damage caused by the bacteria, known as Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans. Oral keratinocytes act as the major barrier to physical, microbial, and chemical agents that may cause local cell injury and are involved the proinflammatory process. Consequently, oral keratinocytes may potentially participate in controlling oral infections through an inflammatory process.

Additionally, the PACs from the blueberries were shown to protect oral macrophages - white blood cells that are crucial to the immune system. The PACs also blocked the molecular pathway involved in inflammation – a factor largely involved in part of gum disease.

While more evidence is needed, the results of this study add to the body of research on blueberry’s potential antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. 

For more information:
Megan Brown
Tel: +1 (212) 229-2254

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