The University of Glasgow Dental School in collaboration with colleagues at the School of Veterinary Medicine is seeking applications from candidates for a PhD project entitled “Is ageing a risk factor for canine periodontal disease? The effect of ageing on the canine oral microbiome and cholinergic control of oral inflammation”. Applicants must be a veterinary, biological sciences or dental graduate with an interest in microbiology, immunology and/or veterinary research and must be fully funded (government or personal) to cover tuition fees and bench fees.
Periodontal diseases (gingivitis and periodontitis) affect up to 80% of adult dogs and are a common clinical problem in small animal practices worldwide. Periodontal disease can cause chronic oral pain and premature tooth loss, ultimately resulting in an impairment in the ability of the animal to feed and a negative effect on quality of life. Furthermore, canine periodontal disease has been associated with myocardial degeneration, kidney dysfunction and liver disease. Although it is accepted that the oral microbiota is the primary aetiological agent, the host immune response plays a major role in driving the pathogenesis of the disease. However, despite epidemiological evidence suggesting that ageing is a risk factor for periodontal disease in dogs, there are limited studies investigating whether age-related changes in the oral microbiota and host immunity are responsible.
Choline is an essential nutrient and although mammals synthesise this molecule themselves it is now established that additional dietary choline is required to meet our daily needs. Choline is the essential backbone of acetylcholine, a molecule with both neurotransmitter (neuronal) and cytotransmitter (non-neuronal) functions. Recently scientists have shown that acetylcholine is an important regulator of host immunity. In addition, there is an age-related decrease in the ability of mammalian cells to synthesise and release acetylcholine. As the pathogenesis of canine periodontal disease is driven by a dysregulated immune response, it is interesting to speculate that an age-related decrease in acetylcholine synthesis leads to a dysregulated oral immune response to plaque microbiota and thus the increased susceptibility of ageing dogs to periodontal disease. Furthermore, if this hypothesis is proved correct then it offers the possibility that choline dietary supplementation may help protect from canine periodontal disease.
This PhD study will investigate changes in the oral microbiomes of dogs with a healthy oral cavity and those with periodontitis across a wide age spectrum. It will also investigate whether there are age-related changes in the cholinergic systems of the oral cavity in dogs. Furthermore, the effect of choline on the immune response of canine oral cells and tissues to known oral pathogens will be investigated using several well validated in vitro model systems.
Please note, this studentship is for international applicants only.
If you would like to informally discuss the project or require further information, please contact Dr Marcello Riggio: [email protected]
or Dr Christopher Nile: [email protected]
Formal applications can be made through the University of Glasgow online application system:
When applying, please choose ’MVLS-PhD’ from the drop-down menu and enter the project title in the free text box