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J Immunol. 1998 Jan 1;160(1):403-9.

IL-1 and TNF antagonists inhibit the inflammatory response and bone loss in experimental periodontitis.

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Department of Periodontology and Oral Biology, Boston University School of Dental Medicine, MA 02118, USA.


Periodontal disease is the most frequent cause of tooth loss in humans and is the most prevalent disease associated with bone loss, including osteoporosis. Periodontal destruction is initiated by bacteria that colonize the tooth surface, leading to inflammation and bone resorption. To assess the roles of IL-1 and TNF in this process, studies were conducted in a Macaca fascicularis primate model of experimental periodontitis. Function-blocking soluble receptors to IL-1 and TNF were applied by local injection to sites with induced periodontal destruction and compared with similar sites injected with vehicle alone. The results indicate that injection of soluble receptors to IL-1 and TNF inhibited by approximately 80% the recruitment of inflammatory cells in close proximity to bone. The formation of osteoclasts was reduced by 67% at the experimental sites compared with that at the control sites, and the amount of bone loss was reduced by 60%. All results were statistically significant (p < 0.01). These findings indicate that a significant component of the pathologic process of periodontitis is due to IL-1/TNF activity, since inhibiting IL-1/TNF reduces both inflammatory cell recruitment and bone loss. The data also suggest that inflammation associated with gingivitis is actively protective, since blocking further up-regulation of the host response with IL-1/TNF inhibitors does not cause periodontal damage. Furthermore, these results coupled with recent evidence that IL-1 and TNF participate in endocrine-associated osteoporosis suggest that multiple pathologies involving excessive loss of bone may operate through a common mechanism involving IL-1 and/or TNF.

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