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Molecule that destroys bone also protects it, new research shows

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- An immune system component that is a primary cause of bone destruction and inflammation in autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis actually protects bone in the oral cavity from infectious pathogens that play a major role in periodontal disease in humans, research at the University at Buffalo has shown.

The component, IL-17, was recognized only in the past 18 months to be a primary cause of bone destruction and inflammation in autoimmune diseases. Therapies that target IL-17 or its cellular receptor currently are being developed.

However, a UB molecular biologist has discovered that, in contrast to its action in rheumatoid arthritis(RA), IL-17 actually protects bone in the oral cavity from infectious pathogens such as Porphyromonas gingivalis, a bacterium that plays a major role in most periodontal disease in humans.

The research findings appear in the current (May) issue of the journal Blood.

Sarah L. Gaffen, Ph.D., associate professor of oral biology in the UB School of Dental Medicine and associate professor of microbiology and immunology in the UB School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, is senior author. Jeffrey J. Yu, a medical student and doctoral candidate who is a researcher working in Gaffens lab, is first author.

Gaffen and colleagues conducted the research in mice bred to have no receptors for IL-17. Other researchers had shown previously, using rats and mice as animal models, that blocking the receptor for IL-17 could be an effective therapy for RA and possibly for other autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, colitis, psoriasis and lupus.

The effects of an IL-17 deficiency in periodontal disease, however, were unknown, so Gaffens lab set out to investigate.

"I predicted these mice without the IL-17 receptor were going to be protected from periodontal bone loss, just like theyre protected from arthritic bone loss," Gaffen said. "In fact, we got the opposite
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Contact: Lois Baker
ljbaker@buffalo.edu
716-645-5000 x1417
University at Buffalo
8-May-2007


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