Oral immunology in periodontitis and inflammatory bowel disease

The lab focuses on immune processes and molecular mechanisms underlying chronic inflammatory conditions with the emphasis on monocytes, macrophages, and the macrophage growth factors CSF-1 and IL-34 in periodontitis, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and rheumatic disorders. The projects are translational bridging odontology and medicine as well as pre-clinical and clinical sciences.

Principal Investigator

Elisabeth Boström is the Principal Investigator of the projects in oral immunology in periodontitis and inflammatory bowel disease, described below.

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Elisabeth Boström

DDS, PhD, Assistant Professor

Mucosal immunology and oral manifestations of Crohn's disease

Crohn’s disease (CD) is an inflammatory disease affecting the lining of the gastrointestinal tract, including oral mucosa and oral manifestations of disease is a well-established clinical problem. The pathogenesis of CD is not completely understood but involves genetic predisposition, environmental factors, and dysregulated immune responses. Macrophages play an essential role in immune responses of oral and intestinal mucosal membranes, and are speculated to be hyper reactive to microbial stimuli in chronic inflammation. The connections between immune processes at different sites of the gastrointestinal tract are poorly understood. We hypothesize that oral mucosa mirrors intestinal mucosa. Immune alterations, presented in oral mucosa and saliva, may reflect not only local involvement but also intestinal disease, and may be of value in the diagnosis and monitoring of Crohn’s patients.

Macrophages in periodontitis

Periodontitis (PD) is a chronic inflammatory condition of tooth supporting tissues that, if left untreated, ultimately results in tooth loss. The clinical diagnosis of periodontitis is based on assessment of irreversible tissue destruction and means to diagnose and monitor disease without clinical examination are lacking. Circulating monocyte populations are altered in periodontitis and the numbers of tissue macrophages are increased however, the pathological role and function of distinct macrophage subsets in periodontitis are yet unknown. We hypothesize that macrophage function is defective and aim to identify clinical and cellular biomarkers that prompt early diagnosis and improve disease monitoring.


  • Stephanie Zwicker, PhD. Postdoc
  • Daniela Bureik, Research assistant
  • Reuben Clark, PhD-student
  • Mirjam Majster, PhD-student
  • Johanna Lepp, nutritionist, research assistant
  • Gisele Martinez, DDS, PhD, specialist in periodontology. Affiliated postdoc.
  • Guillermo Ruacho, DDS


  • Sven Almer, MD, PhD, Adj. Professor. Clinical collaborator and specialist in gastroenterology.
  • Annsofi Johanssen, RDH, PhD, Associate Professor.
  • Mattias Svensson, PhD, Associate Professor.
  • Elisabet Svennungsson, MD, PhD, Associate Professor. Specialist in rheumatology.
  • Pernilla Lundberg, DDS, PhD, Associate Professor Umeå University. Specialist in periodontology.
  • Anders Gustafsson, DDS, PhD, Professor. Specialist in periodontology. Vice President of Karolinska Institutet.
  • Kåre Buhlin, DDS, PhD, Associate Professor. Specialist in periodontology.
  • Gunnar Johanssen, DDS, PhD, Assistant Professor. Clinical collaborator and specialist in periodontology.
  • Patricia De Palma, DDS, PhD, Assistant Professor, Clinical collaborator and specialist in periodontology.


Swedish Research Council, ALF/ Stockholm County Council, Swedish Odontological Association (SOF), Åke Wiberg Foundation, Karolinska Institutet Research funds, young investigator, Clinical Scientist Training Programme

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