Degenerative periodontal-diseases and oral osteonecrosis: The role of gene-environment interactions

D. Baldi, A. Izzotti, P. Bonica, P. Pera, A. Pulliero

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Chronic-degenerative dentistry diseases, including periodontal diseases and oral osteonecrosis, are widespread in human populations and represent a significant problem for public health. These diseases result from pathogenic mechanisms created by the interaction between environmental genotoxic risk-factors and genetic assets conferring individual susceptibility. Osteonecrosis occurs in subjects undergoing exposure to high doses of DNA-damaging agents for chemo- and radiotherapy of neoplastic diseases. In susceptible patients, ionizing radiation and biphosphonate-chemotherapy induce severe, progressive, and irreversible degeneration of facial bones, resulting in avascular necrosis of the jaw. This may also occur in patients receiving biphosphonate for osteoporosis therapy. Periodontal diseases include chronic, aggressive, and necrotizing periodontitis, often resulting in severe alteration of periodontal tissues and tooth loss. Cigarette smoking and chronic inflammation caused by specific bacteria are the main risk factors for periodontitis. Oxidative damage plays a fundamental pathogenic role, as established by detection of mitochondrial DNA damage in the gingival tissue of patients with periodontitis. Endogenous risk factors in dental diseases include polymorphisms for metabolic enzymes such as glutathione transferases M1 and T1, N-acetyl transferase 2, and CYP 1A1. Other genetic polymorphisms that confer susceptibility to dentistry diseases affect genes encoding metalloproteases (involved in periodontal tissue remodeling and degradation), cytokines (involved in inflammation), prothrombin, and DNA repair activities. These findings provide evidence that dentistry diseases are related to risk factors associated with environmental mutagenesis. This issue warrants future investigations aimed at improving oral health and preventing oral degenerative diseases using molecular and experimental approaches currently utilized in mutagenicity studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)118-131
Number of pages14
JournalMutation Research - Fundamental and Molecular Mechanisms of Mutagenesis
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - Jul 10 2009


  • Genetic susceptibility
  • Genotoxic risk factors
  • Oral osteonecrosis
  • Periodontal diseases

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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