Study suggests statins could help fight gum disease

statins gum disease
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A new US study conducted in cell cultures has shown that statins, a cholesterol-lowering drug, helps to dampen the inflammation associated with periodontal disease by altering the behaviour of macrophages, a type of immune cell.

“During our study, we replicated specific conditions in periodontal disease and demonstrated that introducing statins to our in vitro model modifies macrophage response,” Subramanya Pandruvada, an assistant professor in the College of Dental Medicine at the Medical University of South Carolina, said.

“This allowed us to explore how medication like statins can help us treat inflammatory conditions such as periodontal disease.”

Some previous studies have shown that people taking statins tend to show fewer signs of periodontitis than people who do not take statins. The new study is the first to trace the biochemical pathways through which statins appear to reduce periodontal inflammation. The new findings build upon the group’s initial results, which were published last year in Cells.

“Recent periodontal literature has shown the beneficial effects of statins when used with traditional periodontal therapy,” Pandruvada said. 

“However, our study highlights a novel approach in which statins affect macrophages specifically, which—through this mechanism—can help treat periodontal disease.”

Macrophages play an important role in helping the body fight infections; however, they can also worsen inflammation depending on the form they take at different phases of the immune response. The researchers grew macrophages and gum cells together for the study and exposed them to various conditions. They found that exposure to simvastatin, a common statin drug, suppressed the macrophage inflammatory response.

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