EP 1085B - How Oral Bacteria Suppress Protection Against Viral Growth

Summary: Researchers have recently discovered how proteins produced by oral epithelial cells protect humans against viruses entering the body through the mouth.
Air Date: 3/1/22
Duration: 19:48
Host: Michael Roizen, MD
Guest Bio: Richard Lamont, Ph.D & Juhi Bagaitkar, Ph.D.
Richard Lamont, Ph.D. is the Delta Dental Endowed Professor and Director of the Research Group in Oral Health & Systemic Disease at the University of Louisville School of Dentistry. His cross-disciplinary research projects focus on dissecting the molecular and cellular basis of the interactions between oral bacteria and their host and defining how these collective interactions influence immune responses in other parts of the body such as enhancing susceptibility to cancers and preterm birth. Dr. Lamont has been consistently funded by the NIH over the past two decades with several multi-million-dollar grants, is has been the editor and on the editorial board of several scientific journals. He has written and edited several textbooks including Oral Microbiology and Immunology, the first textbook of its kind to focus primarily on the knowledge and understanding of the oral ecosystem and its unique role in human health and disease. The book details the ecology, virulence, molecular biology, and immunogenicity of oral bacteria, viruses, and fungi and examines their interface with the human host. Dr. Lamont earned his doctorate in bacteriology from the University of Aberdeen. He was a postdoctoral fellow in microbiology at the University of Pennsylvania. Lamont was most recently a professor in oral biology at the University of Florida.

Juhi Bagaitkar, Ph.D., was recently recruited as a principal investigator at the Abigail Wexner Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital and a tenured associate professor of Pediatrics at The Ohio State University College of Medicine. As an immunologist, Dr. Bagaitkar’s research focuses on various factors that regulate inflammatory responses at the oral mucosal barrier, the site of initial interactions with allergens, microbes, and environmental triggers. Complex interactions occur between the epithelial cells that make up the mouth’s surfaces and physically protect the body, immune cells that serve as the body’s first line of defense against infection, and the microorganisms these cells encounter. An appropriate immune response to bacterial and viral pathogens encountered at this barrier helps restore healthy stability in the body or homeostasis. Dr. Bagaitkar received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Pune in 2003, before earning master’s degrees at the University of Pune in 2005 and the University of Louisville in 2008. In 2010, Dr. Bagaitkar also completed her doctorate at the University of Louisville, where she earned the Condict Moore Graduate Research Prize, Guy Stevenson Award for Excellence in Graduate Studies, and the Dean’s Citation for Excellence in Graduate Studies.  Dr. Bagaitkar completed her postdoctoral studies at Washington University in St. Louis and received the Adel A. Younis Award for Excellence in Hematology from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.  As a student and as an early career investigator, Dr. Bagaitkar received multiple awards from the Society for Leukocyte Biology, and in 2019, Dr. Bagaitkar became an associate counselor for the organization.  Dr. Bagaitkar’s research is funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Dr. Lamont and Bagaitkar started their collaboration at the UoL while Dr. Bagaitkar was an Assistant Professor. She has recently moved to Ohio. However, they share a rich history of collaborations and publication on several exciting projects including a recent paper in PNAS that for the first time described the role of oral bacteria in determining susceptibility to viral infections and broad anti-viral immunity of the host. Their studies could be influential in understanding the susceptibility of COVID as well, as the oral cavity has been recently described as an infection site for this virus.

EP 1085B - How Oral Bacteria Suppress Protection Against Viral Growth
Researchers from the University of Louisville School of Dentistry and their colleagues have discovered details of how proteins produced by oral epithelial cells protect humans against viruses entering the body through the mouth. They also found that oral bacteria can suppress the activity of these cells, increasing vulnerability to infection.

A family of proteins known as interferon lambdas produced by epithelial cells in the mouth serve to protect humans from viral infection, but the oral bacteria Porphyromonas gingivalis reduces the production and effectiveness of those important frontline defenders.

Dr. Juhi Bagaitkar and Dr. Richard Lamont, professor and chair of the UofL Department of Oral Immunology and Infectious Disease, led the work, with first author Carlos J. Rodriguez-Hernandez and other colleagues at UofL and at Washington University in St. Louis. The findings were published in December in PNAS.
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