Why Gum Disease Is More Common With Old Age
New research from Queen Mary, University of London, in collaboration with research groups in the United States, may elucidate the reasons behind deteriorating gums as we age. According to the study, published in Nature Immunology, the worsening of gum health, common with aging, is associated with a drop in the level of a chemical called Del-1.
In the study’s abstract, authors wrote that aging is “linked to greater susceptibility to chronic inflammatory diseases, several of which, including periodontitis, involve neutrophil-mediated tissue injury.” The authors reported finding that “agingassociated periodontitis was accompanied by lower expression of Del-1, an endogenous inhibitor of neutrophil adhesion
dependent on the integrin LFA-1.”
According to a news release from the university, authors believe understanding more about Del-1 and its effects on the body’s immune system could help in the treatment or prevention of serious gum disease. The study compared gum disease in young and old mice and found that an
increase in gum disease in the older animals was accompanied by a drop in the level of Del-1, a protein known to restrain the immune system by stopping white blood cells from sticking to and attacking mouth tissue. Mice that had no Del-1 developed severe gum disease and elevated bone loss, and researchers found unusually high levels of white blood cells in the gum tissue, the news release said. When they treated the gums of the mice with Del-1, the number of white blood cells dropped, and gum disease and bone loss were reduced.
Source: Published online March 25, 2012, Nature Immunology.