Statins could help fight gum disease, study suggests


Statins are one of the most commonly prescribed drugs in the UK, taken by up to eight million people to lower cholesterol levels in the blood and protect the inside of artery walls.

The drugs may also help improve gum health and reduce the risk of heart disease, according to the new study's results.

“In our study, we replicated the specific conditions of periodontal disease and demonstrated that introducing statins in our in vitro model can alter macrophage responses,” said Subramanya Pandruvada, assistant professor at the Medical University of South Carolina School of Dentistry.

“This allows us to explore how drugs like statins can help us treat inflammatory diseases like periodontal disease.”

He added: “Recent periodontal literature suggests that statins have beneficial effects when used alongside traditional periodontal therapy.

“However, our study highlights a new way in which statins specifically affect macrophages, and through this mechanism, could help treat periodontal disease.”

Periodontal disease occurs when the growth of bacteria in the gums triggers an immune system response, leading to symptoms such as swelling, bleeding, and bone deterioration.

If left untreated, tooth loss may result.

Current treatments for the disease include antibiotics, deep cleaning of the tooth and root surfaces, and various surgical procedures.

Macrophages play an important role in helping the body fight infection, but they can also exacerbate inflammation, depending on the form they take during different stages of the immune response.

In the study, the researchers grew macrophages and gum cells together in the laboratory and exposed them to various conditions.

They found that exposure to simvastatin, a common statin, suppressed the inflammatory response of macrophages.

The findings, to be presented at Discover BMB, the annual meeting of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, build on the group's preliminary results published last year in the journal Cell.

The study's lead author is Waleed Alkakhan, a dental resident in periodontics. Nico Farrar is a dental student at the Medical University of South Carolina.





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