IL-1β and TNF-α play an important role in modulating the risk of periodontitis and Alzheimer’s disease

Rachel Pei Hsuan Wang, Jianpan Huang, Kannie Wai Yan Chan, Wai Keung Leung, Tetsuya Goto, Yuen Shan Ho, Raymond Chuen Chung Chang

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Systemic activation of the immune system can exert detrimental effects on the central nervous system. Periodontitis, a chronic disease of the oral cavity, is a common source of systemic inflammation. Neuroinflammation might be a result of this to accelerate progressive deterioration of neuronal functions during aging or exacerbate pre-existing neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease. With advancing age, the progressive increase in the body’s pro-inflammatory status favors the state of vulnerability to both periodontitis and Alzheimer’s disease. In the present study, we sought to delineate the roles of cytokines in the pathogenesis of both diseases. Methods: To examine the impacts of periodontitis on the onset and progression of Alzheimer’s disease, 6-month-old female 3 × Tg-AD mice and their age-matched non-transgenic mice were employed. Periodontitis was induced using two different experimental models: heat-killed bacterial-induced periodontitis and ligature-induced periodontitis. To delineate the roles of pro-inflammatory cytokines in the pathogenesis of periodontitis and Alzheimer’s disease, interleukin 1 beta (IL-1β) and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α) were also injected into the buccal mandibular vestibule of mice. Results: Here, we show that IL-1β and TNF-α were two of the most important and earliest cytokines upregulated upon periodontal infection. The systemic upregulation of these two cytokines promoted a pro-inflammatory environment in the brain contributing to the development of Alzheimer’s disease-like pathology and cognitive dysfunctions. Periodontitis-induced systemic inflammation also enhanced brain inflammatory responses and subsequently exacerbated Alzheimer’s disease pathology and cognitive impairment in 3 × Tg-AD mice. The role of inflammation in connecting periodontitis to Alzheimer’s disease was further affirmed in the conventional magnetization transfer experiment in which increased glial responses resulting from periodontitis led to decreased magnetization transfer ratios in the brain of 3 × Tg-AD mice. Conclusions: Systemic inflammation resulting from periodontitis contributed to the development of Alzheimer’s disease tau pathology and subsequently led to cognitive decline in non-transgenic mice. It also potentiated Alzheimer’s disease pathological features and exacerbated impairment of cognitive function in 3 × Tg-AD mice. Taken together, this study provides convincing evidence that systemic inflammation serves as a connecting link between periodontitis and Alzheimer’s disease.

Original languageEnglish
Article number71
JournalJournal of Neuroinflammation
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023


  • Aging
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Cognitive dysfunctions
  • Neuroinflammation
  • Periodontitis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Immunology
  • Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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