Periodontal (gum) disease is a chronic inflammation initiated by bacteria that affect the gums and bone supporting the teeth, and may eventually result in tissue and tooth loss. It is similar to other chronic inflammatory diseases such as arthritis, where inflammation causes tissue damage and is responsible for the disease.
To date, the prevention of gum disease has been limited to successful oral hygiene and regular professional care. However, despite these preventive actions, in susceptible individuals with a high inflammatory response, plaque control is not enough to prevent disease.
Today, during the 87th General Session of the International Association for Dental Research, scientists from Boston University are reporting on the discovery of Resolvins, a new family of biologically active products of omega-3 fatty acids with the therapeutic potential to resolve periodontal inflammation and restore the gums to health.
Oil from fish contains eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA); both are omega-3 fatty acids. These omega-3 fatty acids keep blood triglycerides in control and may inhibit the progression of atherosclerosis. EPA and DHA also have anti-inflammatory activity and are often used to help people with various inflammatory conditions, such as Crohn’s disease and rheumatoid arthritis.
The Resolvins are natural endogenous regulators of the immune system against inflammation. Compounds derived from EPA are designated Resolvins of the E series (RvE1), and those biosynthesized from DHA are denoted Resolvins of the D series (RvD). The investigators have previously shown that topical application of RvE1 in experimental gum disease provided protection against soft tissue and bone loss associated with gum disease and, remarkably, restored the lost soft tissue and bone to healthy levels. Since, in recent studies, DHA-derived Resolvin D1 (RvD1) was shown to provide protection against tissue damage in several systemic inflammation models, the Boston team conducted experiments to test the actions of RvD1 in regulating tissue destruction and resolution of inflammation in gum disease.
Experimental gum disease characterized by tissue inflammation and bone loss was stimulated in rabbits by the application of specific bacteria that cause human gum disease. The results demonstrate that RVD1 is similar to the EPA-derived lipid mediator, RvE1, in resolving periodontal inflammation and tissue regeneration. These results support the hypothesis that both EPA- and DHA-derived Resolvins have therapeutic potential in resolving periodontal inflammation and restoring the tissues’ health.