Anibal Diogenes, DDS, PhD
Assistant Professor of Endodontics
D.D.S., Federal Univ. of Pernambuco Recife, Brazil
Ph.D., UT Health Science Center San Antonio
Pain, Nociceptors, TRPV1, TRPA1, LPS , Electrophysiology, Calcium Imaging, CGRP, Stem Cells, SCAP cells, Regenerative Endodontics, Pulp-dentin complex
Pain is defined as “an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage, or described in terms of such damage”. Pain management is a global health problem. It is responsible for approximately 20% of medical visits and 10% of all prescribed medication in the U.S. alone. We recognize the complexity of the sensation of pain. Therefore, our laboratory focuses mainly on studying peripheral pain mechanisms with the goal to block pain signaling where it is initiated, in the periphery. Moreover, we aim to understand how inflammatory mediators and microorganism modulate peripheral nociception. This approach could lead to the development of peripherally restricted analgesics, avoiding the well-documented side-effects of centrally acting analgesics.
We employ single cell molecular techniques to animal models of pain to understand mechanistically how nociceptors detect different modalities, become sensitized and how their function could pharmacologically controlled. We use the dental pulp as a model of isolated nociceptors to test experimental drugs that could potentially become successful analgesics. In this technique, dental pulp isolated from extracted teeth is superfused, and released neuropeptides are measured as a dependent measure of neuronal activation. This ex-vivo is a unique and crucial bridging technique between basic science and clinical research.
Additionally, we are investigating ways of using autologous stem cells present in the apical dental papilla (SCAP cells) to regenerate the pulp-dentin complex. We use undifferentiated mesenchymal stem cells isolated from human dental pulp to test different interventions with the goal to control the fate of their differentiation and function in vitro. We also conduct clinical trials to evaluate different techniques aiming to regenerate the pulp-dentin complex in teeth that would have an otherwise very compromised prognosis.