A new research has established that a decreased white blood cell function can lead to early-onset periodontal disease, or aggressive periodontitis.The scientists showed that at six weeks of age the genetically engineered mice had lost 27 percent of their alveolar bone whereas the normal mice had no bone loss. The loss of alveolar bone, which anchors teeth in place, is an indication of periodontitis.
The scientists also supplied evidence that bacteria are necessary to instigate the disease process. To test this theory, they gave antibiotics to some of the knockout mice. The antibiotics reduced the amount of bacteria and eliminated alveolar bone loss in the knockout mice. The scientists said this betokens that bacteria are required for early onset periodontal disease to develop. "We think that the decreased ability of the white blood cells to reach infection sites permits overgrowth of all bacteria, including harmful types," said Dr. Niederman. "Bone loss may be initiated when the amount of harmful bacteria rises above a certain level."
The current research supports on earlier work by the Forsyth team and other scientists who have studied the cellular and molecular basis of aggressive periodontitis. Specifically, the research team is studying the genetics of both the host and the infecting organisms. Working with Dr. Niederman at Forsyth are Dr. Phil Stashenko, Department of Cytokine Biology, and Drs. Floyd Dewhirst and Bruce Paster, Department of Molecular Genetics.