Mucus has been found to be the first line of defense for the body. For example, it has been shown that licking a wound will actually help it heal faster because it signals white blood cells, which fight infection. The findings come from researchers at Lund University along with colleagues at Copenhagen and Odense in Denmark.
Dr. Ole Sørensen, from the Division of Infection Medicine, said, “White blood cells are among other places located in the oral mucosa, and they represent the body’s first line of defense against infectious agents. The mucus in the mouth causes the white blood cells to throw out a ‘net’ that traps bacteria. It appears to be precisely the mucus in the saliva that stimulates white blood cells to form these effective nets of DNA and proteins.”
Researchers found that patients who have two diseases that cause mouth ulcers lack the saliva that manages and stimulates a successful net formation. The two diseases are aphthous stomatitis and Behçet’s disease.
Dr. Sørensen added, “We cannot determine that these diseases are caused by the mucus’s inability to stimulate the white blood cells to produce efficient nets. There may also be another, underlying cause for the ulcers and the changes in the saliva.”
Individuals with aphthous stomatitis are usually prescribed a mouth wash and those with Behçet’s disease are treated with an anti-inflammatory. The new knowledge of the mucus formation net could potentially lead to new treatments for both diseases.