Magazine article USA TODAY

Source of Periodontitis in Nervous System

Magazine article USA TODAY

Source of Periodontitis in Nervous System

Article excerpt

The genes that are responsible for nervous system development and immune function also play a role in an insidious gum disease known as chronic periodontitis, reveal researchers at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. The work, led by Kimon Divaris, a research assistant professor in the School of Dentistry, is the first genome-wide association study of the disease.

"Periodontitis is a serious infection and inflammation of the gums that can progressively destroy the bone and tissues that support your teeth," explains Divaris. "We not only have confirmed that this is a heritable disease, which occurs in some form in nearly 50% of the population, but now we know which genes play a large role--and that gives us pretty interesting clues about how the disease works and what we can do to better treat and prevent it."

Divaris and his team, including senior author Stephen Offenbacher, chair of the Department of Periodontology, identified six genes and 12 pathways important to nervous system and immune function that are involved in the disease. …

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