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Waddington, Rachel


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Rachel Waddington

Matrix Biology and Tissue Repair Research Unit, 

Department of Dental Health and Biological Sciences

Dental School

Professor in Oral Biochemistry, Director of Postgraduate Research Studies

029 2074 2609

029 2074 4509


Relevant Key Words:

Inflammatory Periodontal Disease, Proteoglycans, stem progenitor cells, mineralised tissues


Research Expertise relevant to tissue engineering & repair:

Role of the small leucine rich proteoglycans (SLRPs) in the formation of mineralised tissues, particularly dentine and bone.  Detailed biochemical analysis of SLRPs has suggested differing roles for the SLRPs, dependent upon their glycosylation status.  This has been complimented though our studies which have examined the influence of fluoride on SLRP synthesis, leading to alterations in their post-translational modification.  In determining further the roles of SLRPs in mineralisation we have synthesised recombinant forms of decorin and biglycan and examined their potential to guide mineral crystal growth as isolated macromolecules and following interaction with collagen and growth factors. 

The manipulation of stem / progenitor cells of bone and dentin / pulp complex and the use of biomimetic matrices for clinical use in bone tissue engineering.  We have isolated and characterised at least stem / progentitor cell populations from dental pulp using different features of the cell surface markers.  The cell populations differ in terms of their embryonic nature and their response to various stimuli is likely to be important in their recruitment to sites of injury and formation of reparative dentine to preserve the vitality of teeth following restoration.

Stem / progenitor cell recruitment and the subsequent differentiation of the cells towards bone synthesising osteoblasts is also being studied in relation to osseointegration.  Our studies investigate how the titanium surface affects the expression (mRNA and protein level) of markers of proliferation and differentiation of progenitor cells on different titanium surfaces and within diabetic bone using in vitro and in vivo model systems.

Host-bacterial interactions in the pathogenesis of inflammatory dental disease. We are investigating the effect of potential bacterial pathogens on the synthesis and remodelling of SLRPs by osteoblasts, considering wound healing mechanisms during inflammatory diseases, notably periodontal disease and pulpal inflammation.  They follow previous studies that have investigated the role of reactive oxygen species in periodontal tissue destruction and the potential for SLRPs as biomarkers in assessing periodontal disease.  Current studies have demonstrated the interaction pathogenic and commensal Streptocooci milleri species with matrix proteins, which can potentially influence cellular activity of periodontal fibroblasts.  We are now investigating whether these interactions and changes to the extracellular environment influence the bacterial phenotype and pathogenic virulence and work is underway to investigate S. milleri pathogenesis using a tooth slice organ culture model, and the potential for antimicrobial and wound healing agents for therapeutic use. 

Biomarkers of periodontal tissue destruction.  Progression of inflammatory periodontal disease is episodic and clinically difficult to monitor leading to misdiagnosis (estimates of 70%) and misappropriation of therapeutic resources.  Current research addresses the need for a diagnostic chair-side immunoassay to evaluate active tissue destruction during periodontal disease.  The assay utilises the diagnostic value of gingival crevicular fluid (GCF), an inflammatory exudate, which arises from the underlying periodontal tissues.  Our studies have identified increased levels of decorin in GCF associated with clinical situations where active bone resorption is probable.


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