A new study led by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine has demonstrated how a protein can in inhibit bone loss associated with periodontitis.
Del-1 curbs the activity of osteoclasts, cells that absorb bone tissue, leading to a mechanistic explanation of how the protein can prevent periodontal bone loss. It is hoped that this finding paves the way for therapeutic interventions to treat periodontitis and possibly other inflammatory conditions.
Senior author George Hajishengallis said: “This is not just important for periodontitis. It could also have implications for other inflammatory diseases where bone loss is involved, like osteoporosis and rheumatoid arthritis.”
His colleague, Triantafyllos Chavakis, added: “The findings underline the therapeutic potential of this endogenous anti-inflammatory factor, Del-1, in further human pathologies where the levels of Del-1 are reduced.”
With this new understanding of how Del-1 can inhibit periodontal bone loss — both by reducing inflammation and by restraining the activity of osteoclasts that resorb bone tissue — the researchers tested it, in a preclinical model of periodontitis observing that Del-1 significantly reduced inflammation and tissue damage and that there was significantly less bone loss.
Hajishengallis and colleagues have implicated Del-1 in other inflammatory diseases, including multiple sclerosis, and are beginning to examine its possible involvement in rheumatoid arthritis and osteoporosis. Unlike some drugs used to treat these diseases, Del-1 is a protein that the human body already produces, so administration of a Del-1-based drug would likely be safer than some of the alternatives, especially for local inflammatory diseases.
Their research was published in the journal Science Translational Medicine. The senior author added: “I’m convinced that this is a drug that could work in humans.”