Chung-Jung Chiu, DDS, PhD
Our research interest includes the remote effects of oral microbiota and oral health policy. Through collaborating with multidisciplinary experts, we aim to take care of oral health as a whole of human body.
The oral cavity has a myriad of resident microbiota and periodontal microbiota is the causative agent for periodontitis, which is one of the most prevalent diseases in humans and almost every adult is affected by some forms of periodontitis during his life. It has been shown that specific combinations of periodontal microbiota are associated with risk for the various forms of periodontitis. In addition to the intra-oral inflammation, the chronic trickling of periodontal microbiota into the bloodstream also elicits low-grade systemic inflammation. This periodontal microbiota-related systemic inflammation has been suggested to increase the risk for several extra-oral diseases, such as atherosclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, metabolic disorders, and neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease. We therefore hypothesize that the interactions between specific compositions of periodontal microbiota and human immune system are associated with the risk for human extra-oral diseases. To characterize such interactions, we chose antibodies as a surrogate to reflect the immune responses to specific combinations of periodontal microbiota because, compared with other immune responders, immunoglobulins are highly specific to microbial pathogens. Using data from a nationally representative survey of the US, we recently tested this hypothesis and found that the increased extra-oral disease risk can also be attributable to specific compositions of periodontal microbiota, some of which are not necessarily related to periodontitis. For example, we have characterized some specific serum immunoglobulin G (IgG) patterns to periodontal microbiota which are associated with the risk for age-related macular degeneration and diabetes-related mortality. Therefore, characterization of IgG patterns may provide an opportunity to understand the relationship between specific combinations of periodontal microbiota and human diseases and could lead to new therapeutic and preventative strategies. To more efficiently characterize the specific antibody patterns which are related to the various extra-oral diseases, we are also trying to develop a new, high throughput platform by which we will be able to measure the interactions between periodontal microbiota and human immune system using human antibody-containing bio-specimens, such as blood, saliva, and tears.
In addition to using biological approaches to study the remote effects of oral health, we are also interested in oral health policy, including decisions, plans, and actions that, if undertaken, may achieve specific healthcare goals, such as defining a vision for the future which in turn helps to establish targets and points of reference for the short and medium term. These works involve analyzing oral health data in the US and international collaboration with China. We are studying how to incorporate cloud technology, big data, and artificial intelligence approaches in these projects.