Gum disease ’caused by immunosuppression of skin cells in mouth’

Gum disease 'caused by immunosuppression of skin cells in mouth'

The way cells maintain the barrier between the mouth’s microbe-rich environment and tooth surfaces affects how the body reacts to microbial attack.

This is according to new research led by Dr Kevin Byrd of the American Dental Association and Inês Sequeira from the Institute of Dentistry at Queen Mary University of London.

The researchers found that tooth-facing sulcular keratinocytes (SKs) and also tooth-interfacing junctional keratinocytes (JKs) displayed altered differentiation states. They also showed greater activation of the proteins necessary for an immune response (cytokines) in periodontitis. 

The study identified that the way that these cells maintain the barrier between the microbe-rich environment inside the mouth and the surface of the teeth has a profound impact on the way the body reacts to microbial attack.

Researchers created an integrated single-cell RNA sequencing atlas of the human periodontium. These are the tissues in the mouth that connect teeth to the underlying bone.

They said this will help to identify the unique environments that impact on the development of gum disease. The team also hopes this will lead to more precise treatments. 

However, further research is needed to support precision periodontal interventions in states of chronic periodontal inflammation. 

Combatting inflammation

Dr Sequeira said: ‘This research highlights the intricate cell-microbe interactions and immune responses within the periodontal niche, paving the way for precision periodontal interventions to combat chronic inflammation.’

Millions of people worldwide experience periodontitis. Aside from pain and tooth loss, this disease is also associated with more than 60 systemic diseases. For example, cardiovascular diseases and type 2 diabetes.

To date, little research has been carried out into the exact combinations of micro-organisms and cell types in the human mouth that affect the body’s immune response, or those that contribute to the development of periodontitis. 

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