2019-2021, Project A128382, Niedersachsen-Israel research project

Exploring the mutual regulation of γδ T cells and the oral microbiota.

A plethora of microorganisms and antigens from air and food constantly challenge the oral cavity, the gateway for both the gastrointestinal and respiratory tracts. The oral mucosa, in particular the gingival epithelium, provides an important immunological barrier against invading pathogens and monitors the biofilm developing on the tooth surface. We hypothesize that the oral microbiota is chronically activating the gingival epithelium as well as specialized immune cells contained within the oral mucosa. In previous cooperative research of the two applicants, we found that there is a mutual interplay of oral bacteria and strategically positioned γδ T cells, which patrol the barriers and screen them for epithelial integrity. We propose that these interactions induce a “trained immune response” and maintain a healthy immune homeostasis in the gingival mucosa. To explore the mutual regulation of γδ T cells and the oral microbiota, the Israeli and German partners jointly employ unique genetic models, next-generation-sequencing, and advanced methods for in vivo and ex vivo microscopy. The two groups’ complementary expertise in experimental research in the gingival immune system and γδ T cells will warrant a highly synergistic and scientifically rewarding cooperation. Besides increasing our knowledge regarding the mechanisms regulating oral immune homeostasis, we aim at revealing novel mechanisms involved in the pathogenesis and prevention of chronic oral mucosal inflammation (periodontitis), which will contribute to public health.