Dr. Vanessa Houde
Dr. Vanessa Houde University Laval, Faculty of dentistry

Project description

News from Dr. Vanessa Houde

Introduce yourself, your research project and your experience with the Microbiota Grant

I’m a professor and an early career research the Faculty of Dentistry (Oral Ecology Research Group) at Université Laval (Québec City). I’m pursuing multidisciplinary studies on the interconnection between oral health and metabolic health. My team focus on understanding the interconnection between periodontal diseases, a chronic inflammatory disease of the gum leading to tooth lost if left untreated, and obesity and type 2 diabetes, two metabolic diseases. Other projects from my lab focus on understanding host-oral microbiota interactions. In 2020, my project entitled “Influence of hyperglycemia on the host-microbiome interactions during subgingival microbiome dysbiosis” was funded by the Biocodex Microbiota Foundation Grant.  

What inspired you to pursue this specific research project?

The oral microbiome is a very complex environment composed of several ecological habitats (supra-gingival dental plaque, subgingival dental plaque, saliva, tongue, etc.). Each of these habitats plays active role in oral health and diseases. The dysbiosis of the subgingival microbiome promotes the growth of periodontopathogens and the development of periodontitis, an irreversible chronic inflammatory disease. Untreated periodontitis leads to the destruction of connective tissues, alveolar bone resorption and ultimately to tooth loss. Periodontitis has been associated with inflammatory metabolic diseases such as type 2 diabetes. Periodontitis-induced inflammation is a key player in both, the development of subgingival microbiome dysbiosis and in the host-microbiome interaction. However, the effects of hyperglycemia on the regulation of the host gingival transcriptome controlling the inflammatory response and the host-microbiome interaction have been poorly characterized.  

How has the Biocodex Microbiota Foundation Grant support contributed to the success and advancement of your research?

As an early career research, the Biocodex Microbiota Foundation Grant was my first funded grant. This funding generated results that led to the first publication from my team. We demonstrated that subgingival microbiome dysbiosis modulated pro-inflammatory cytokines secretion and specific genes expression in hyperglycemic microenvironment (paper published in International Journal of Molecular Sciences in 2023). These data highlight the importance of considering systemic conditions in the development of new drugs or treatments for oral diseases, in particular periodontal disease, in link with obesity and type 2 diabetes.    

In what ways do you envision your work influencing the microbiota-related research in the future?

I hope that the work from my lab will help to better understand bacterial interactions within the subgingival microbiota (subgingival dental plaque) and the interaction of this microbiota with the host. The ultimate goal is to develop, amongst other, personalized treatments for individuals suffering from periodontal disease in association with metabolic diseases.

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