Since the advent of immunizations and antibiotics, few people in the Western world die from infectious disease – or do they? Maybe the bacteria, rather than going away, found more insidious means of infiltration.
“We’re only now beginning to recognize how bacteria contribute in much more subtle ways to chronic disease,” said Roberta Gottlieb.
A biology professor, Gottlieb came to SDSU last year to head the BioScience Center, which explores the connections between infection, inflammation and heart disease. With four grants from the National Institutes of Health, she is currently focused on two separate areas of research – finding ways to salvage heart muscle following heart attack and documenting a link between gum
disease and heart disease.
Recent research on the latter topic indicates that inflammation is the body’s response to bacterial infection. Even local inflammation can cause arteries to harden.
“We’re moving toward this idea that’s it’s not necessarily specific pathogens going directly into the blood vessels and hardening them. The inflammatory response to multiple low-level infections is sufficient to create an environment leading to diabetes, obesity and heart disease.”
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