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Obesity May Trigger Development of Cells that Break Down Bones Holding the Teeth, Study Shows

Periodontal disease
A boy with gum disease (periodontal disease). (PHOTO: Smile Savers Dentistry)

A study led by researchers from the University at Buffalo claims that chronic inflammation due to obesity might inflate the number of myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSC) that break down bone tissues, including those that hold the teeth. This study sought to improve the understanding of the link between periodontal disease and obesity.



Obesity and periodontal disease

The graphic demonstrates how MDSC expansion during obesity to become bone destroying osteoclasts during gum disease is tied to increased bone loss around teeth. (PHOTO: Keith Kirkwood/University at Buffalo)


Bone Loss Major Symptom of Gum Disease

Gum disease or also known as periodontal disease is a serious gum infection that damages the tissue and bone that supports the teeth, according to Mayo Clinic. That means bone loss is a major symptom of gum disease that will ultimately lead to tooth loss. The CDC says that about 47% of people aged 30 years old and above can experience this disease.

One of the main reasons that destroy bone tissues is the MDSC, which is a group of immune cells that originate in the bone marrow and can develop into osteoclasts that break down bone tissue.  

Researchers of the new study say that despite the clear relationship between obesity and periodontal disease, no research yet has described the mechanism behind the link between the two.

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MDSC Turns Into Osteoclasts Due to Obesity

In the study, researchers examined two groups of mice fed with different diets for 16 weeks, wherein one group received a low-fat diet while the other group had a high-fat diet.

According to the university’s press release via EurekAlert! the high-fat diet group experienced obesity, inflammation, and an increase of MDSCs. These cells then turned into osteoclasts and cause bone loss that holds the teeth in place. More so, mice in the high-fat group have increased expression of 27 genes linked to osteoclast.

Researchers said that the findings of the study would help shed light on the mechanisms behind other chronic inflammatory diseases, especially those bone-related ones that develop alongside obesity.

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