Microbial Pathogenesis / Inflammation / Immunity
Infection and host responses to infection and tissue damage are broadly studied within the College of Dentistry and throughout Ohio State University as a whole (see also the Center for Microbial Interface Biology and the Department of Molecular Virology, Immunology and Medical Genetics). Research within the College of Dentistry is focused on all levels of the infectious and inflammatory processes, ranging from analyses of pathogenic microbes to the adaptive immune response to those pathogens. For example, advanced molecular techniques are used to study microbial communities, comprised of both commensal and disease-associated microbes, in the oral cavity and in the intestines. These studies are helping to identify how microbial populations help to shift the balance between health and disease in the mouth and in the gastrointestinal tract.
Additional research is focused on the early inflammatory response to infection and tissue damage, with faculty in the College of Dentistry studying the regulation of signaling pathways and inflammatory gene expression in cells of the musculoskeletal system, immune system, and brain vasculature. The regulation of the inflammatory response is probed by studying how factors, like mechanical forces and hormones, influence the development of the inflammatory response. Immune cell reactivity to infectious stimuli is also studied in the College of Dentistry within the context of bacterial infections, such as aggressive periodontitis, and viral infections, such as influenza viral infection. These studies are demonstrating that unique genetic polymorphisms in certain immune cell types, as well as physiological responses to stressors, alter the development of innate and adaptive immunity to microbes, and affect the ability of the host to respond to infectious diseases.