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News

Free radical scavenging is defective in periodontal disease

The capacity to mop up harmful oxygen free radicals seems to be reduced in people with periodontal disease, find researchers in the latest issue of Molecular Pathology.

News image

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Destructive periodontal disease affects 10 to 15% of people worldwide.

It is a leading cause of tooth loss, developing as a result of bacterial infection from a build-up of plaque on the surface of the teeth.

Resulting inflammation destroys attachment fibers and supporting bone that hold the teeth in the mouth.

Glutathione levels in gingival crevicular fluid up to 400 times those found in plasma.
Molecular Pathology
In this study, a research team from England and the United States analyzed plasma samples and gingival crevicular fluid (GCF), a plasma-derived fluid, which bathes the epithelial surfaces around the teeth.

The team assessed 10 middle-aged men and women with advanced periodontal disease, as well as matched controls with healthy teeth and gums.

The researchers identified an unusual antioxidant response the GCF, which was not seen in the plasma samples.

The team identified the antioxidant, glutathione, in GCF by artificially stimulating inflammatory cell activity and analyzing biological peptides.

Glutathione levels in GCF were up to 400 times those found in plasma.

Furthermore, the team found that the antioxidant capacity of both the systemic (plasma) and local (GCF) samples was significantly lower in people with periodontal disease, than in those with healthy teeth and gums.

Professor Iain Chapple's team conclude, "Gluatathione levels, and evidence of the neutralization of free radicals, were low in those with periodontal disease, but very high in those with healthy gums".

"High glutathione levels are also found in healthy lung and cervical tissue…and may be part of a defense strategy by epithelial cells against bacterial assault".

"But they suggest that in severe periodontitis, the immune cell response appears to be imbalanced in that white cells become hyperactive, leading to increased inflammation and overproduction of oxygen free radicals while scavenger (gluatathione) levels are too low to cope with this".

Mol Pathol 2002; 55: 367-73
26 November 2002

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