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Adv Dent Res. 2014 May;26(1):38-46. doi: 10.1177/0022034514529305.

Alveolar bone loss: mechanisms, potential therapeutic targets, and interventions.

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Department of Oral Medicine, Infection, and Immunity, Harvard School of Dental Medicine, 188 Longwood Avenue, REB 513, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


This article reviews recent research into mechanisms underlying bone resorption and highlights avenues of investigation that may generate new therapies to combat alveolar bone loss in periodontitis. Several proteins, signaling pathways, stem cells, and dietary supplements are discussed as they relate to periodontal bone loss and regeneration. RGS12 is a crucial protein that mediates osteoclastogenesis and bone destruction, and a potential therapeutic target. RGS12 likely regulates osteoclast differentiation through regulating calcium influx to control the calcium oscillation-NFATc1 pathway. A working model for RGS10 and RGS12 in the regulation of Ca(2+) oscillations during osteoclast differentiation is proposed. Initiation of inflammation depends on host cell-microbe interactions, including the p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling pathway. Oral p38 inhibitors reduced lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced bone destruction in a rat periodontitis model but showed unsatisfactory safety profiles. The p38 substrate MK2 is a more specific therapeutic target with potentially superior tolerability. Furthermore, MKP-1 shows anti-inflammatory activity, reducing inflammatory cytokine biosynthesis and bone resorption. Multipotent skeletal stem cell (SSC) populations exist within the bone marrow and periosteum of long bones. These bone-marrow-derived SSCs and periosteum-derived SSCs have shown therapeutic potential in several applications, including bone and periodontal regeneration. The existence of craniofacial bone-specific SSCs is suggested based on existing studies. The effects of calcium, vitamin D, and soy isoflavone supplementation on alveolar and skeletal bone loss in post-menopausal women were investigated. Supplementation resulted in stabilization of forearm bone mass density and a reduced rate of alveolar bone loss over 1 yr, compared with placebo. Periodontal attachment levels were also well-maintained and alveolar bone loss suppressed during 24 wk of supplementation.


menopause; mesenchymal stem cells; p38 MAPK; p38 inhibitors; regulator of G protein signaling; skeletal stem cells

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