Considering the hypothesis that some temporomandibular joint (TMJ) tissues could be a potential target for sexual hormones, the aim of the study was to evaluate estrogen (17-beta-estradiol) and progesterone serum levels in a young adult population affected by articular forms of temporomandibular disorders (TMD) versus a control group of healthy subjects. METHODS: A total of 35 patients with Research Diagnostic Criteria for Temporomandibular Disorders (RDC/TMD) Axis I Group II diagnosis of disk displacement and/or Group III diagnosis of arthralgia, osteoarthritis or osteoarthrosis, were recruited at the Section of Prosthetic Dentistry, Department of Neurosciences, University of Pisa, Italy, along with a sex- and age-matched group of 24 healthy controls. In all patients, 17-beta-estradiol, progesterone, luteinizing hormone (LH), follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) serum levels were determined using a radioimmunoassay. A T-test was performed to compare mean 17-beta-estradiol and progesterone serum levels in the TMD groups with mean serum levels of their respective control groups. Significance was set at p<0.05. RESULTS: Significant differences between patients affected by TMJ disorders and healthy controls were found for serum concentration of 17-beta-estradiol, both in males (p<001) and in the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle in females (p<0.05). No difference was found for progesterone serum levels in the different experimental samples. CONCLUSIONS: The results of this study suggest that high serum estrogens levels might be implicated in the physiopathology of temporomandibular joint disorders, since subjects with these pathologies showed significantly higher serum levels with respect to a group of healthy controls.
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