New York: US researchers have identified 41 genes that may cause gum disease, paving the way for developing compounds that can be used in targeted treatment of severe periodontitis before loss of teeth and supportive bone occurs.
Periodontal disease is inflammation of the tissue around the teeth, often causing shrinkage of the gums and loosening of the teeth.
In the study, the team "reverse-engineered" the gene expression data to build a map of the genetic interactions that lead to periodontitis and identify individual genes that appear to have the most influence on the disease.
"Our approach narrows down the list of potentially interesting regulatory genes involved in periodontitis," said Panos N Papapanou, Professor at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) in New York.
"This allows us to focus on the handful of genes that represent the most important players in the process rather than the whole transcriptome," Papapanou added.
The researchers examined RNA from healthy and diseased gum tissues of 120 patients with periodontitis.
Many of the genes identified by Papapanou and his team are implicated in immune and inflammatory pathways, confirming laboratory and clinical observations of the development of periodontal disease.
"Now it's important to do the downstream work of validating these master regulator genes in the lab before we can test these genes in experimental models," Papapanou noted in the paper published in the Journal of Dental Research.