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Exploring Novel Approaches to Inhibit Bone Loss

October 02, 2015

Exploring Novel Approaches to Inhibit Bone Loss

While understanding that inflammation is what underpins gingivitis and periodontal disease, it is the bone loss associated with the latter that is particularly problematic with respect to tooth loss. Shin and colleagues have taken a page out of the vascular disease research playbook and, in a recent publication,1 presented studies examining the potential of a protein known as DEL-1, a leukocyte integrin antagonist, to affect bone loss. Initial experiments with mouse and human osteoclasts in vitro demonstrated that this protein was expressed in osteoclasts and inhibited their bone resorptive function.  

Investigators explored whether a fusion protein construct of DEL-1, DEL-1-Fc, was able to regulate bone loss in vivo. After observing positive results in a mouse model, they then induced periodontitis using ligatures in the posterior maxillary teeth of cynomolgus monkeys and treated them using a split-mouth experimental design. Three days after ligature placement, the monkeys received twice-weekly gingival injections of DEL-1-Fc to one half of the maxilla, while the other half was injected with Fc control; the study lasted for six weeks. They observed greater maxillary bone heights and lower levels of proinflammatory cytokines on the DEL-1-Fc–injected side as compared with the control side.

While a number of questions remain, including efficacy and safety of this protein for ameliorating periodontal disease-related bone loss in humans, ongoing research on DEL-1 may be of interest to dentists.


1. Shin J, Maekawa T, Abe T, et al. DEL-1 restrains osteoclastogenesis and inhibits inflammatory bone loss in nonhuman primates. Sci Transl Med 2015;7(307):307ra155. Abstract available at: "http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26424570". Accessed October 2, 2015. 

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