Daily Statin Tablet Dose

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💡What To Know:

  • Statins displayed the ability to lower harmful gum inflammation.
  • The drug simvastatin suppressed the macrophage inflammatory response.
  • Gum disease has been previously linked to higher risks for heart disease.

CHARLESTON, S.C. — Statins are typically prescribed to patients to help treat high cholesterol, but new research suggests they may also benefit oral health. A study conducted at the Medical University of South Carolina’s College of Dental Medicine using cell cultures details how statins appear to stop inflammation associated with periodontal disease by changing the behavior of a specific type of immune cell called macrophages.

Statins rank as the number one most common type of prescription medication in the United States today. Over 40 million Americans take statins to lower cholesterol. Now, scientists believe statins can improve gum health while simultaneously reducing the risk of heart disease.

“During our study, we replicated specific conditions in periodontal disease and demonstrated that introducing statins to our in vitro model modifies macrophage response,” says Subramanya Pandruvada, an assistant professor in the College of Dental Medicine at the Medical University of South Carolina, in a media release. “This allowed us to explore how medication like statins can help us treat inflammatory conditions such as periodontal disease.”

Periodontal disease refers to the growth of bacteria in the gums, causing the immune system to mount an inflammatory response. These developments usually result in symptoms such as swelling, bleeding, and bone degradation. If left untreated, periodontal disease can lead to tooth loss. Half of adults over the age of 30 live with some form of gum disease, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Dentist patient having teeth and gums examined
Periodontal disease refers to the growth of bacteria in the gums, causing the immune system to mount an inflammatory response. (Photo by Caroline LM on Unsplash)

Current treatments offered for advanced periodontal disease include antibiotics, deep cleanings of tooth and root surfaces, and numerous surgical procedures. However, medical researchers have been searching for new ways to calm gum disease using less invasive treatments for quite some time.

Prior studies have shown that people taking statins usually display fewer signs of periodontitis than others who don’t take statins. This latest report, however, is the first ever to trace the biochemical pathways by which statins appear to reduce periodontal inflammation.

“Recent periodontal literature has shown the beneficial effects of statins when used with traditional periodontal therapy,” Prof. Pandruvada explains. “However, our study highlights a novel approach in which statins affect macrophages specifically, which, through this mechanism, can help treat periodontal disease.”

Macrophages have a major role in the human body’s fight against infections. However, they can also worsen inflammation depending on the form they take during various phases of the immune response. Study authors grew macrophages and gum cells together for this project, eventually exposing them to various conditions. This led to the observation that exposure to simvastatin, a common statin drug, appears to suppress the macrophage inflammatory response.

Moving forward, study authors want to research the influence of statins on periodontal disease in animal models. They say this would represent a pivotal step toward conclusively determining if this strategy could be a safe and effective approach for future periodontal therapies.

The scientists presented their findings at Discover BMB, the annual meeting of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

About John Anderer

Born blue in the face, John has been writing professionally for over a decade and covering the latest scientific research for StudyFinds since 2019. His work has been featured by Business Insider, Eat This Not That!, MSN, Ladders, and Yahoo!

Studies and abstracts can be confusing and awkwardly worded. He prides himself on making such content easy to read, understand, and apply to one’s everyday life.

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