Institute of Dentistry

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Innate Immune Mechanisms in the Oral Cavity

Associated Centre/s:  Clinical and Diagnostic Oral Sciences

Associated Research:  Infection, Immunity and Inflammation

Role of Nitric Oxide:

The enterosalivary nitrate circulation appears to encourage nitrate reducing bacteria to reside within the oral cavity. Oral immunity may be enhanced via the action of microbial nitrate reductases and the subsequent production of nitric oxide (NO) from nitrite under acidic conditions. This theory has been examined in relation to oral disease (dental caries).  Further studies in collaboration with the William Harvey Institute are investigating the relationship between oral nitrate reducing microbial populations and blood pressure control as a result of vasodilatory NO production. These studies also complement Industry funded projects to determine the role of sulphide producing tongue bacteria in oral malodour and periodontitis.

Role of Host Defence Peptides:

Host defence (antimicrobial) peptides, which are expressed at oral mucosal surfaces, are emerging as important effector molecules in linking the innate and adaptive immune responses. Previous work has demonstrated that adrenomedullin (AM) has antimicrobial activity against members of the oral microflora. Studies have also included investigations of AM expression in epithelial cells and macrophages in response to periodontal bacteria. The association between up regulation of AM and the NO cascade (NO synthase route), and the possible role of AM and NO as biomarkers of oral disease, are currently being investigated.


Professor Robert Allaker
Professor of Mucocutaneous Microbiology
+44 20 7882 2388

Research Centre for Clinical & Diagnostic Oral Sciences
Blizard Building
Barts & The London
Queen Mary's School of Medicine & Dentistry
4 Newark Street
London E1 2AT


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