Harmful or beneficial aspects of oral facial tissue and environment to the cardiac regeneration: Periodontitis may worsen the outcome of cardiac function after injury whilst the orofacial stem cells may augment their regenerative capacity.


A rodent model of myocardial injury will be used to investigate cardiac function. We will investigate the detrimental effect of a chronic inflammatory disease (periodontitis) on cardiac function and the engraftment ability of orofacial stem cells into injured hearts. A PhD stipend is available.


Dr Munira Xaymardan, Professor Joerg Eberhard

Research Location

Sydney Dental School

Program Type



Ischemic heart diseases attribute to 1/3 of human mortality in developed countries and are on the rise. After an acute ischemic assault (myocardial infarction, MI or heart attack), the principle contractile cells of the heart termed cardiomyocytes are lost permanently. The parenchymal cells of the area are replaced by non-contractile fibrous scar tissues. Around 50% of the patient die from an acute MI if without intervention (eg revascularisation) and majority of the survivors eventually develop heart failure. The aetiology of ischemic heart diseases is multifactorial in nature. One of the possible causational factors may be related to periodontitis. Periodontitis is one of most frequent oral diseases; around 50% of the adults develop periodontitis after 50 years of age. A current hypothesis is that a main contributor, the human pathogen Porphyromonas gingivalis (P. gingivalis) triggers an inflammatory response in the host tooth supporting tissues. Molecules produced by bacteria and the anti-bacterial host responses enter the circulation, which may contribute, to the development of the atherosclerosis in the blood vessels including coronary arteries. The mechanism of which is not clear, as well, the mortality and cardiac functional outcomes of patients with periodontitis after an acute MI is unknown.
In this study, we will introduce periodontitis before MI is surgically induced in rodent to unveil the relationship of cardiac functional outcomes and periodontitis in an event of ischemic attack. Using the same model, we are planning explore the regenerative capacity of orofacial derived stem cells. The satellite cells will be Isolated from the orofaical muscle tissue and injected into the cardiac tissue after an injury to assess the engraftment and functional improvement of the heart. This experiment is based on the premises of an exciting finding that developing orofaical muscle cells share a common origin with cardiomyocytes in embryos. These muscle stem cells, termed satellite cells, reside in the adult orofacial muscle tissues whilst lost in the postnatal hearts.
This set of studies will further help to understand the contribution of poor oral health to heart disease and the potential regenerative capacities of oral stem cells, which both have substantial impact on oral health care and the understanding of how the oral cavity is closely linked to general health and potential therapeutic approaches

Additional Information

The project will use rodent model of cardiac injury (e.g. Myocardial Infarction). The student will be trained in the surgical techniques; the potential candidate is expected to be able to work with animal models, to operate and to monitor.
The techniques/method will include cell culture, imaging (CT, Echocardiogram) and immunohistochemistry as well as methods molecular biology
Currently, there are several HDR students in both Eberhard and Xaymardan labs to look at the link between oral and systemic health, and orofacial development and it's link to the cardiac development and regeneration.
PhD stipend is available.

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Myocardial infarction, Cardiac Function, regeneration, Orofacial stem cells, periodontitis, General Health

Opportunity ID

The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is: 2656

Other opportunities with Professor Joerg Eberhard