Background/objectives: Aging enhances frequency of chronic diseases like cardiovascular diseases or periodontitis. Here we reproduced an age-dependent model of the periodontium, a fully physiological approach to periodontal conditions, to evaluate the impact of dietary fat type on gingival tissue of young (6 months old) and old (24 months old) rats.
Methods/findings: Animals were fed life-long on diets based on monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) as virgin olive oil, n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-6PUFA), as sunflower oil, or n-3PUFA, as fish oil. Age-related alveolar bone loss was higher in n-6PUFA fed rats, probably as a consequence of the ablation of the cell capacity to adapt to aging. Gene expression analysis suggests that MUFA or n-3PUFA allowed mitochondria to maintain an adequate turnover through induction of biogenesis, autophagy and the antioxidant systems, and avoiding mitochondrial electron transport system alterations.
Conclusions: The main finding is that the enhanced alveolar bone loss associated to age may be targeted by an appropriate dietary treatment. The mechanisms involved in this phenomenon are related with an ablation of the cell capacity to adapt to aging. Thus, MUFA or n-3PUFA might allow mitochondrial maintaining turnover through biogenesis or autophagy. They might also be able to induce the corresponding antioxidant systems to counteract age-related oxidative stress, and do not inhibit mitochondrial electron transport chain. From the nutritional and clinical point of view, it is noteworthy that the potential treatments to attenuate alveolar bone loss (a feature of periodontal disease) associated to age could be similar to some of the proposed for the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular diseases, a group of pathologies recently associated with age-related periodontitis.