Public Release: 

Scientists discover possible new weapon in the fight against gum disease

New research in The FASEB Journal suggests that melanocortin agonism could represent an innovative way to tame inflammation, and at the same time, preserve periodontal bone after infection

Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology

If you hate going to the dentist, here's some good news. New research published online in The FASEB Journal, shows that melanocortin agonism may effectively control the inflammation that often occurs in gum tissue, which when unchecked, ultimately accelerates tooth and bone loss. This research involving mice, opens the door to a new class of treatments for gum 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," said Mila Madeira, Ph.D., a researcher involved in the work from the Department of Microbiology at the Biologic Science Institute at the Universidad Federal de Minas Gerais in Belo Horizonte, MG, Brazil.

To make their discovery, Madeira and colleagues used several groups of mice. The first group was infected with bacteria related to gum disease and then treated them with a melanocortin agonist. The second group had no infection. The third group was infected, but not treated. The final group was infected but treated with a placebo. Melanocortin agonism was associated with reduced alveolar bone resorption and less inflammation, a critical feature to be controlled in gum diseases.

"Attenuation of the inflammatory axis of periodontal pathology cannot be overstated in its importance ," said Thoru Pederson, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal. "These findings provide an entirely new approach to this highly prevalent condition."


Submit to The FASEB Journal by visiting, and receive monthly highlights by signing up at The FASEB Journal is published by the Federation of the American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB). It is the world's most cited biology journal according to the Institute for Scientific Information and has been recognized by the Special Libraries Association as one of the top 100 most influential biomedical journals of the past century.

FASEB is composed of 30 societies with more than 125,000 members, making it the largest coalition of biomedical research associations in the United States. Our mission is to advance health and welfare by promoting progress and education in biological and biomedical sciences through service to our member societies and collaborative advocacy.

Details: Mila F. M. Madeira, Celso M. Queiroz-Junior, Trinidad Montero-Melendez, Silvia M. C. Werneck, Jôice D. Corrêa, Frederico M. Soriani, Gustavo P. Garlet, Daniele G. Souza, Mauro M. Teixeira, Tarcilia A. Silva, and Mauro Perretti. Melanocortin agonism as a viable strategy to control alveolar bone loss induced by oral infection. doi:10.1096/fj.201600790R ;

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