It is becoming clear that periodontitis is not only characterized by pathogenic infection, but even more so by a loss of immunological homeostasis. Strategies toward resolution of regenerating the periodontium without completely blocking immune responses against local and systemic infections would be ideal. Our long-term objective is to address the physiological cause of periodontitis through an understanding of the inflammatory and regulatory processes of the periodontium. Correspondingly, recent data in our laboratories indicate that periodontitis symptoms are accompanied by the absence of an important cell subset called regulatory T-cells. We hypothesize that controlled release formulations of Treg-recruiting factors is a viable way to regenerate the periodontal space. This hypothesis is supported by our preliminary data demonstrating that controlled release of Treg recruiting factors leads to an increase in regulatory T-cells in the periodontium, in the draining lymph nodes, and, consequently, resolution of periodontal disease symptoms 2 mouse models.
Specific Aim I : To engineer controlled release formulations that can influence the number of Tregs in the periodontium and abrogation of the symptoms of periodontitis. We will rationally design and fabricate controlled release microparticles to produce various release profiles of Treg recruiting factors and then examine their effect on alveolar bone loss using two different murine models of periodontal disease. Furthermore, we will explore the expansion of local lymphocytes toward an enriched population of Tregs through controlled release of a combination of several key molecules.
Specific Aim II : To better understand the biological mechanisms of Treg recruitment and function in periodontal tissues. We will examine the mechanisms of Treg chemotaxis in the periodontium by monitoring gene expression in response to Treg recruiting therapies and chemotaxis in mice deficient in receptors thought to be important for migration and function of Tregs. We will then investigate the duration of Treg residence in the periodontium under inflammatory conditions after a single injection of our preliminary CCL22 microparticle formulations. We will also examine the expression levels of molecular markers associated with Tregs and tissue metabolism to elucidate the mechanisms of Treg-mediated periodontal disease abrogation.

Public Health Relevance

This work has relevance to public health as it intends to address the most pressing oral health concern today, affecting over 78 million Americans. This disease affects not only tooth loss, but also the incidence of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, respiratory diseases, and even premature childbirth. Furthermore, our approach may also have relevance to other diseases such as osteoarthritis of the temporo-mandibular joint.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Dental & Craniofacial Research (NIDCR)
Research Project (R01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Oral, Dental and Craniofacial Sciences Study Section (ODCS)
Program Officer
Lumelsky, Nadya L
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
University of Pittsburgh
Engineering (All Types)
Biomed Engr/Col Engr/Engr Sta
United States
Zip Code
Balmert, Stephen C; Donahue, Cara; Vu, John R et al. (2017) In vivo induction of regulatory T cells promotes allergen tolerance and suppresses allergic contact dermatitis. J Control Release 261:223-233
Francisconi, Carolina Favaro; Vieira, Andreia Espindola; Biguetti, Claudia Cristina et al. (2016) Characterization of the Protective Role of Regulatory T Cells in Experimental Periapical Lesion Development and Their Chemoattraction Manipulation as a Therapeutic Tool. J Endod 42:120-6
Glowacki, Andrew J; Gottardi, Riccardo; Yoshizawa, Sayuri et al. (2015) Strategies to direct the enrichment, expansion, and recruitment of regulatory cells for the treatment of disease. Ann Biomed Eng 43:593-602
Araujo-Pires, Ana Claudia; Vieira, Andreia Espindola; Francisconi, Carolina Favaro et al. (2015) IL-4/CCL22/CCR4 axis controls regulatory T-cell migration that suppresses inflammatory bone loss in murine experimental periodontitis. J Bone Miner Res 30:412-22
Balmert, Stephen C; Zmolek, Andrew C; Glowacki, Andrew J et al. (2015) Positive Charge of ""Sticky"" Peptides and Proteins Impedes Release From Negatively Charged PLGA Matrices. J Mater Chem B 3:4723-4734
Garlet, G P; Sfeir, C S; Little, S R (2014) Restoring host-microbe homeostasis via selective chemoattraction of Tregs. J Dent Res 93:834-9
Glowacki, Andrew J; Yoshizawa, Sayuri; Jhunjhunwala, Siddharth et al. (2013) Prevention of inflammation-mediated bone loss in murine and canine periodontal disease via recruitment of regulatory lymphocytes. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 110:18525-30
Jhunjhunwala, Siddharth; Raimondi, Giorgio; Glowacki, Andrew J et al. (2012) Bioinspired controlled release of CCL22 recruits regulatory T cells in vivo. Adv Mater 24:4735-8
Little, Steven R (2012) Reorienting our view of particle-based adjuvants for subunit vaccines. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 109:999-1000
Balmert, Stephen C; Little, Steven R (2012) Biomimetic delivery with micro- and nanoparticles. Adv Mater 24:3757-78