Background and Objective: Receptor activator of nuclear factor-κB ligand (RANKL) is responsible for the induction of osteoclastogenesis and bone resorption, whereas its decoy receptor, osteoprotegerin, can directly block this action. Because this dyad of cytokines is crucial for regulating the bone remodelling process, imbalances in their expression may cause a switch from the physiological state to enhanced bone resorption or formation. This study investigated the mRNA expression of RANKL and osteoprotegerin, as well as their relative ratio, in the gingival tissues of patients with various forms of periodontal diseases.
Material and Methods: Gingival tissue was obtained from nine healthy subjects and 41 patients, who had gingivitis, chronic periodontitis, generalized aggressive periodontitis, and chronic periodontitis and were receiving immunosuppressant therapy. Quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction was employed to evaluate the mRNA expression of RANKL and osteoprotegerin in these tissues.
Results: Compared with healthy individuals, patients in all periodontitis groups, but not those with gingivitis, exhibited stronger RANKL expression and a higher relative RANKL/osteoprotegerin ratio. In addition, osteoprotegerin expression was weaker in patients with chronic periodontitis. When patients with generalized aggressive periodontitis and chronic periodontitis were compared, the former exhibited stronger RANKL expression, whereas the latter exhibited weaker osteoprotegerin expression, and there was no difference in their relative ratio. When chronic periodontitis patients were compared with chronic periodontitis patients receiving immunosuppressant therapy, osteoprotegerin, but not RANKL, expression was stronger in the latter.
Conclusion: This study demonstrates that RANKL and osteoprotegerin expression are differentially regulated in various forms of periodontitis, and the relative RANKL/osteoprotegerin ratio appears to be indicative of disease occurrence. This information may confer diagnostic and therapeutic value in periodontitis.