Hormone treatment promising for control of gum disease

Melanocortin agonists stopped inflammation and appeared to preserve bone physiology in mice treated with the hormone, researchers say.

By Stephen Feller

BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil, Aug. 19 (UPI) -- Stimulating the action of a hormone may prevent inflammation and other effects in gum disease that lead to tooth loss, according to new research.

Researchers in Brazil found treatment with melanocortin agonists stopped inflammation in mice, suggesting it could lead to a treatment for gum disease in humans.


Gum disease is a bacterial infection that causes red, raw and sometimes bleeding gums, but can also lead to bone loss and has been linked to breast cancer, kidney disease and other adverse health conditions if not treated over the long term.

Based on recent studies suggesting melanocortin peptides, a hormone, could control some of the bone loss associated with gum disease, researchers at the Federal University of Minas Gerais tested its effects on mice.

For the study, published in The FASEB Journal, researchers treated mice infected with Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans, which causes an aggressive form of gum disease, observing four groups: One was treated with a melanocortin agonist, one was infected but not treated, another was treated with a placebo and the fourth group did not have gum disease infections.


The researchers report that mice treated each day for 30 days with the hormone agonist saw reductions in inflammation and preservation of bone physiology, suggesting melanocortin could be used against the disease.

"Controlling inflammation during gum disease is a key step to avoid alveolar bone resorption, tooth loss and, thus, improve the quality of life of patients," Dr. Mila Madeira, a researcher the department of microbiology at the Federal University of Minas Gerais, said in a press release.

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