How changing the stem cell response to inflammation may reverse periodontal disease

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stem cells periodontal disease
Photo: Dmitrii Shironosov – 123rf

US scientists have discovered that a specific type of molecule may stimulate stem cells to regenerate, reversing the inflammation caused by periodontal disease.

The current treatment for periodontal disease involves opening the infected gum flaps and adding bone grafts to strengthen the teeth. 

But in research published in Frontiers in Immunology, scientists from the Forsyth Institute in Massachusetts have discovered that a specific type of molecule may stimulate stem cells to regenerate, reversing the inflammation caused by periodontal disease.

This finding could lead to the development of new therapeutics to treat a variety of systemic diseases that are characterised by inflammation in the body.

For the study, the team removed stem cells from previously extracted wisdom teeth and placed the stem cells onto petri dishes. They then created a simulated inflammatory periodontal disease environment in the petri dishes. Next, they added two specific types of synthetic molecules called Maresin-1 and Resolvin-E1, both specialised pro-resolving lipid mediators from omega-3 fatty acids. 

The scientists found that Mar1 and RvE1 stimulated the stem cells to regenerate even under the inflammatory conditions.

“Both Maresin-1 and Resolvin-1 reprogrammed the cellular phenotype of the human stem cells, showing that even in response to inflammation, it is possible to boost capacity of the stem cells so they can become regenerative,” Dr Alpdogan Kantarci said.

This finding is important because it allows scientists to identify the specific protein pathways involved in inflammation. Those same protein pathways are consistent across many systemic diseases, including periodontal disease, diabetes, heart disease, dementia, and obesity.

“Now that we understand how these molecules stimulate the differentiation of stem cells in different tissues and reverse inflammation at a critical point in time, the mechanism we identified could one day be used for building complex organs,” Dr Kantarci said.

“There is exciting potential for reprogramming stem cells to focus on building tissues.”

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