Canadian Research Team to Study Markers of Alveolar Bone Loss


Michael Glogauer

A group of oral health researchers from across Canada recently earned a 5-year $2.1 million Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) team grant for a study that aims to identify markers of alveolar bone loss and potentially develop new diagnostic tools to determine patients at high risk of periodontitis.

Three members of the Matrix Dynamics Group (Dr. Michael Glogauer and Dr. Chris McCulloch of the University of Toronto and Dr. Chris Overall of the University of British Columbia) will be joined by Dr. Sergio Grinstein from the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto and Dr. Debra Matthews of Dalhousie University as researchers on the project.

“Our studies will hopefully define new diagnostic and prognostic markers that are important for maintaining bone health in patients with periodontal diseases,” says Dr. Glogauer, principal investigator of the study. “The findings may also offer insight into less prevalent and more difficult to study osteoimmunologic diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis.”

The researchers will be examining gingival crevicular fluid using mass spectometry to discover and define profiles of protease-modified inflammatory signalling molecules that activate osteoclasts and drive alveolar bone loss. They envision translating this knowledge on biomarkers into diagnostic tools and therapeutics that could potentially prevent bone loss in patients. Currently, no definitive crevicular fluid biomarkers exist for the diagnosis of bone loss associated with periodontal disease at its early stages.

The team has already obtained preliminary data for the new study from an existing patient base with well-documented refractory periodontitis. The group’s research on gingival crevicular fluid biomarkers could be applicable to other systems in the body, including joint fluid, which has implications for rheumatoid arthritis.