Periodontitis research findings

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periodontitisThe findings from a study by a team of researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine have been published in Science Translational Medicine journal, and indicate that periodontitis, a severe form of gum disease, not only causes soft-tissue inflammation and bleeding, but also destroys the bone that supports the teeth. If it progresses unchecked, the researchers discovered, it can lead to tooth loss and has been seen to be associated with systemic inflammatory conditions such as atherosclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis.

The study found that a particular protein, known as Del-1, can inhibit bone loss associated with periodontitis, and that the protein curbs the activity of osteoclasts, cells that absorb bone tissue, explaining how Del-1 can prevent periodontal bone loss. “This is not just important for periodontitis,” said George Hajishengallis, a senior author on the work and the Thomas W. Evans Centennial Professor in the Department of Microbiology at Penn Dental Medicine. “It could also have implications for other inflammatory diseases where bone loss is involved, like osteoporosis and rheumatoid arthritis. The findings underline the therapeutic potential of this endogenous anti-inflammatory factor, Del-1, in further human pathologies where the levels of Del-1 are reduced.

“When we compared Del-1 with a small-molecule inhibitor of neutrophil recruitment side by side, we found that Del-1 was much more effective at inhibiting bone loss,” Professor Hajishengallis said. “That suggested to us that Del-1 may have an additional mechanism to inhibit bone loss, perhaps by acting directly on the osteoclasts. Del-1 doesn’t block the formation of osteoclasts, but it does put the brakes on the process.” The team is now exploring the production of a Del-1-based drug to help such inflammatory diseases, which following recent testing, Professor Hajishengallis believes will have every success in humans.”

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