Cholesterol drugs may improve gum disease

Inflamed Gums Man

Drugs commonly prescribed to lower cholesterol may combat the inflammatory response linked to gum disease by altering the conduct of immune cells, known as macrophages, according to a press release from the American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

Statins may have the potential to improve gum disease and mitigate the risk of heart disease, according to research presented on March 25 at Discover BMB, the society's annual meeting in San Antonio. It is believed to be the first study to follow the biochemical pathways through which statins appear to reduce inflammation associated with gum disease.

"Our study highlights a novel approach in which statins affect macrophages specifically, which, through this mechanism, can help treat periodontal disease," Subramanya Pandruvada, PhD, an assistant professor at the university, said in the release.

In the U.S., statins are the most common type of prescribed medication, and they are taken by more than 40 million people in the U.S. To better understand how statins may affect inflammation, an in vitro study was conducted by growing gum cells and macrophages, which play a major role in combating infections, together and replicating specific conditions in periodontal disease.

Researchers from the Medical University of South Carolina College of Dentistry studied patients who took simvastatin, a commonly prescribed statin drug, and reported subjects experienced a decrease in the inflammatory response of macrophages, according to the release.

The research team identified the biochemical pathways by which statins potentially decrease inflammation in periodontal tissues. Next, they aim to investigate the effects of statins on periodontal disease using animal models. This research will help determine if statins could be a safe and effective treatment for periodontal therapies in the future, according to the release.

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