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Oleh Andrukhov receives FWF research funding for a project on periodontal mesenchymal stem/stromal cells

Second FWF research grant this year for expert from the University Clinic of Dentistry
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Bild: Peter Tuma

(Vienna, 30 July 2021) Oleh Andrukhov, Head of the Competence Center for Periodontal Research at the University Clinic of Dentistry Vienna, has obtained a research grant for a project on periodontal mesenchymal stem/stromal cells from the Austrian Science Fund (FWF). This will be the second FWF research grant that the MedUni Vienna cell- and molecular biologist has obtained this year.

Immunomodulation by subpopulations of periodontal mesenchymal stromal cells
Mesenchymal stem/stromal cells (MSCs) occur in various types of dental tissue and possess immunomodulatory properties. The immunomodulatory capability of MSCs is currently regarded as the main mechanism of their therapeutic effect in various tissue regeneration strategies since their differentiation potential in vivo is very limited.

More recent studies suggest that periodontal MSCs include several subpopulations, which differ in terms of proliferation and differentiation capability, surface marker expression and transcription and proteome profiles. Surprisingly, the differences in the immunomodulatory capability of different subpopulations of these cells have never been systematically studied.

The main hypothesis of this project is that different subpopulations of periodontal MSCs have different immunomodulatory activities. Oleh Andrukhov and his team further pose the hypothesis that these subpopulations differ in the mechanisms of their mutual interaction with immune cells and could play an important role in inflammatory diseases, in particular periodontitis.

The study should make it possible to identify the unique immunomodulatory properties of different subpopulations and to discover the ideal cell sources for the successful use of MSC-like cells for various clinical applications in oral and extraoral tissues.

Already the second FWF project this year
Oleh Andrukhov and his team, working with Christina Schäffer from the University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences Vienna, have already been given the green light for funding of the project "Modulation of the interaction between dental plaque and the immune system by the periodontitis pathogen Tannerella forsythia". Like many organs in the human body, the oral cavity is colonised by bacteria. Most of these bacteria are beneficial to humans and their expression is controlled by the host immune system. However, if certain oral bacteria gain the upper hand, periodontitis can result. This is the world's most common infectious bacterial disease among the adult population and, if left untreated, leads to tooth loss. In most cases, periodontitis is accompanied by an elevated number of the pathogenic bacteria of the "red complex" – Porphyromonas gingivalis, Treponema denticola and Tannerella forsythia – in the oral biofilm (dental plaque). The most recent studies have shown that P. gingivalis can manipulate the immune system, changing the interaction between the oral microflora as a whole and the immune system. It is not known whether the other "red complex" bacteria can manipulate the host immune system. The results of this interdisciplinary project will show to what extent T. forsythia can manipulate host immune defense and affect the balance between the oral microflora and the immune system. The project may be groundbreaking in terms of therapeutic and prophylactic approaches to the treatment of periodontitis.

About Oleh Andrukhov
Oleh Andrukhov has a PhD in biophysics and is a qualified university lecturer in cell biology. His study and research placements have taken him from the Bogomoletz Institute of Physiology in Kiev (Ukraine) via the Institute of Molecular Biology and the Department of Cell Biology of the University of Salzburg to the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Clinical and Experimental Traumatology and then to the University Clinic of Dentistry Vienna (since 2008), where he has headed up the Competence Center for Periodontal Research since 2019. So far, he has authored nearly 100 publications in peer-reviewed journals and is on the editorial board of several specialist journals.