The role of ascorbic acid deficiency in human gingivitis--a new hypothesis.


Nakamoto T, McCroskey M, Mallek HM




J Theor Biol


Periodontal disease is one of the most prevalent health problems in the world and is the major cause of tooth loss in the adult population. Its two major subdivisions are gingivitis where disease is confined to the gingiva, and periodontitis where disease is present both in the gingiva and the supporting periodontal tissues. During the first stage there is a vasculitis of vessels subjacent to the junctional epithelium which is followed by exudation of fluid from the gingival sulcus and migration of leukocytes. There is variable expression of this stage throughout the mouth with new areas of involvement appearing in place of healed areas. Mast cells which are present in the gingival connective tissues may participate in this inflammatory response by liberating histamine. Ascorbic acid deficiency has been shown to be a conditioning factor in the development of gingivitis. When humans are placed on ascorbic acid deficient diets there is increased edema, redness and swelling of the gingiva. These changes have been attributed to deficient collagen production by gingival blood vessels. However, this may be due to an antihistamine role of ascorbic acid. This vitamin may act to directly detoxify histamine or effect a change in the level of enzymes responsible for histamine metabolism. This could occur through the influence of ascorbic acid in altering cyclic AMP (c-AMP) levels. Such changes in the level of this regulatory molecule could result in increased histamine-N-methyl transferase and other enzymes responsible for the breakdown of histamine.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)