By: 30 April 2018
Absence of key protein, TTP, rapidly turns young bones old

The absence of protein TTP, critical to the control of inflammation, may lead to rapid and severe bone loss, according to a new study from the University at Buffalo.

The study found that when the gene needed to produce the protein tristetraprolin (TTP) is removed from healthy mice, the animals developed the bones of much older rodents.

Within nine months, mice without the gene experienced a nearly 20 per cent loss in oral bone. The results also revealed that overexpressing TTP in the animals led to a 13 per cent reduction in bone turnover compared to unaffected mice.

Published in the Journal of Dental Research, the study is the first to test TTP’s influence on bone loss in an animal model.

Inflammation is a necessary reaction by the immune system to protect the body from injury or infection, but if not controlled, it can lead to the destruction of bone and the prevention of bone formation.

While TTP is known to play a major role in the regulation of inflammation, its production slows with age. The research results could have a profound impact on the management of bone health in the elderly, a population at higher risk of osteoporosis and periodontitis.

“TTP is the brake on the system. Without it, inflammation and bone loss would go unchecked,” said Keith Kirkwood, lead author and professor in the Department of Oral Biology in UB’s School of Dental Medicine.

“We don’t know all of the reasons why TTP expression decreases with age. So, understanding the factors behind its expression and relationship with bone loss is the first step toward designing therapeutic approaches.”

The researchers aim to advance their investigation toward similar studies in humans, particularly among the aging.

Caption: The removal of the gene that produces TTP progressively increases the presence of osteoclasts (red) causing rapid bone loss in mice (middle) compared with healthy mice (left). Credit: Keith Kirkwood

Source: University at Buffalo

Reference: HM Steinkamp, and others. Tristetraprolin Is Required for Alveolar Bone Homeostasis. Journal of Dental Research, 2018; 002203451875688 DOI: 10.1177/0022034518756889