Previous studies have highlighted periodontal disease, which is related to inflammation of the gums, as playing a possible role in the development of systemic diseases such as heart disease. The current study demonstrates a possible link between this type of inflammation and pancreatic cancer and pancreatitis.
Researchers found that 31 types of bacterial species were increased in the saliva of patients with pancreatic cancer, compared with healthy controls, and that 25 types of bacteria were reduced. For example, a type of bacteria known as Granulicatella adiacens, which is associated with systemic inflammation, was found to be elevated in pancreatic cancer patients. Also, a bacteria called Streptococcus mitis, which may play a protective role against inflammation, was lower in patients with pancreatic cancer.
The findings add to growing evidence that saliva may be a credible biomarker source to track and diagnose non-oral diseases. The study also offers new research directions for focusing on inflammation as a contributor to pancreatic diseases.
Dr. James Farrell, M.D., associate clinical professor of digestive diseases and director of the Pancreatic Diseases Program at UCLA, and Dr. David Wong, D.M.D., D.M.Sc., UCLA’s Felix and Mildred Yip Professor of Dentistry, associate dean of research at the UCLA School of Dentistry and director of the UCLA Dental Research Institute, are available for interviews.
The National Institutes of Health funded the study.
The research appears in the Oct. 12 online edition of the peer‑reviewed journal Gut. A copy of the full study is available from UCLA media officers.