Genetic Link to Periodontitis Confirmed

Dr. Kimon Divaris, research assistant professor in the department of pediatric dentistry at the University of North Carolina, has published findings from the first genome-wide genetic study on chronic periodontitis in Human Molecular Genetics. The study confirms the long-standing hypothesis that patients may be genetically predisposed to developing periodontitis. The study, for the first time, identified several novel regions of the hu­man genome, genes, and pathways that may be associated with increased risk for development of periodontitis.
“We found that a considerable proportion of severe periodontitis cases can be explained by common genetic variation, and this proportion exceeds 50% when we account for the joint effects of smoking and genetic factors,” said Dr. Divaris. “What was more unexpected and significant was the relationship between the nervous system pathways and periodontitis, complementary to infection and im­mune re­sponse relationships…our re­sults were strongly indicative for a role of neurotransmitter and nervous system functions in chronic periodontitis. What is more intriguing is that pathways making up a neurogenic inflammatory reflex may, in part, be responsible for a ‘hyper-inflammatory’ trait which could render some people more susceptible to periodontitis, but also to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, arthritis and other inflammation-related conditions…We know that intraoral bacteria that are found on or beneath a person’s gums can result in varying levels of immune response and severity of periodontal disease. These differences in clinical disease are consistent with the existence of a hyper-inflammatory trait, which may contribute to some individuals having aggressive or severe forms of periodontitis when others would have mild forms of the disease,” he explained.
(Source: University of North Carolina, March 4, 2013)