The immune system may contribute to tooth loss associated with the gum disease periodontitis, according to a new study in the American Journal of Pathology. By comparing markers in diseased gum tissue samples to samples from healthy patients, the authors found that B-cells and T-cells in gum lesions were producing a key protein known to stimulate bone loss.This paper "elevates the importance of lymphocytes in periodontal lesions," said Denis Kinane from the University of Louisville's School of Dentistry, who was not affiliated with the study. Both gingivitis and periodontitis are characterized by inflamed gum tissue. In advanced periodontitis, however, the gums develop lesions that are packed with immune cells and can damage the bone that supports teeth. For approximately 30 years, scientists have struggled to identify the molecular basis for advanced periodontitis and the role immune cells play in pathogenesis. One protein, called RANKL (receptor activator of nuclear factor-KB...

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