Relationship of Oral Pathogens to Systemic Diseases

JASON KAY, PhD personal profile

A Changing Relationship Between Oral Microbes and Innate Immune Cells

The mouth is home to a large number of microbes, the majority of which exist as commensals without causing harm. Oral microbes enter the circulation fairly often (when flossing and brushing for example), but they are usually dealt with appropriately by the immune system. Occasionally however oral microbes can avoid detection and/or destruction by phagocytic cells. In such cases they can aggravate existing diseases such as atherosclerosis, or cause disease such as infective endocarditis. We are investigating the interactions of oral microbes with the innate immune cells (neutrophils, macrophages and dendritic cells) using cell biology-based approaches. Our aim is to understand how changes in cell type and activation that occur during oral inflammation, such as periodontitis, can alter how the oral microflora interact with phagocytes allowing for their survival and systemic dissemination.

Another area of Dr. Kay's research is available at Immunology and Innate Defenses