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BU Researcher Receives Grant to Study Role Immune Cells Play in Type 2 Diabetes and Periodontal Disease

Nikolajczyk’s research focuses on immuno-metabolism, or the role the immune system plays in obesity and obesity-associated complications like type 2 diabetes.Type 2 diabetes makes people more likely to have problems with oral health and has been shown to promote periodontal disease. In turn, periodontal disease appears to exacerbate type 2 diabetes. Immune cells are known to be the major source of inflammation that promotes both type 2 diabetes and periodontal complications of the disease.

The grant will help fund a series of studies to determine the role various immune system cells and molecules play in the pathogenic relationship between type 2 diabetes and periodontal disease. It is hoped that this analysis may one day soon lead to treatments that improve type 2 diabetes while at the same time improving oral health.

Nikolajczyk published the first definitive analyses showing B cells uniquely support periodontal disease in type 2 diabetes. This work includes a molecular understanding of mechanisms responsible for pro-inflammatory lymphocyte functions in these patients.

The mission of the NIDCR is to improve oral, dental, and craniofacial health through research, research training and the dissemination of health information.

(Boston)—Barbara Nikolajczyk, PhD, associate professor of microbiology at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM), has received a five-year, $2.95 million grant from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR).