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Effects of cigarette smoke on inflammasome activation in oral cells

Institution: University of the Pacific
Investigator(s): Cassio Luiz Coutinho Almeida da Silva,
Award Cycle: 2019 (Cycle 29) Grant #: T29FT0540 Award: $176,616
Subject Area: Oral Disease and Dental Health
Award Type: Postdoctoral Fellowship Awards

Initial Award Abstract
Cigarette smoking harms nearly every organ of the body, causes many diseases, and reduces the health of smokers in general, increasing the risk of dying, according to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention (Services U.S. CDC, 2017). Smoking is a very common habit among the US population and has been recognized as one of the major risk-factors for an ever-increasing number of diseases and conditions in men and woman, such as heart and respiratory disease, several kinds of cancer and oral health. Periodontal disease is an oral chronic inflammatory disease that affects half of the US population and it can cause irreversible tooth loss. There are studies showing a strong association between smoking and periodontal disease in humans, and also between some exacerbated host defenses and induction of disease. However, how smoking leads to disease still remains to be completely understood. Here we propose to investigate the mechanisms involved in host defenses that are associated with a group of proteins that can sense stress or cellular damage and can initiate an inflammatory response. These proteins form a complex called an inflammasome. We also will examine how cigarette smoking extracts regulate our immune defenses against oral bacteria associated with periodontal disease. Our findings will be the first to determine whether the inflammasome plays a role in smoking-related risk for periodontal disease. As pharmaceutical inhibitors and activators of inflammasome components are already being developed for other diseases, our findings may raise the possibility of targeting the inflammasome therapeutically for treatment of smoking-induced disease.