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Autonomic Neuroscience - Oral Physiology and Pharmacology

Research group

Short description

Does your mouth feel dry?
The response is yes from 25% of the adults, and for 3-5% the condition is severe. Dry mouth demolishes the quality of life. Not only hyposalivation but also changes in the composition of the saliva are causes of dry mouth. It causes difficulties in chewing, swallowing and speaking, impairs taste acuity and contributes to dental caries, halithosis and oral mucosal infections. A common cause of dry mouth is medication as a side effect. The research is focused on nervous and endocrine regulatory mechanisms of salivary glandular functions and the importance of saliva (and its composition) for the oral health with the overall aim to lay a ground for prevention and therapy associated with salivary gland dysfunctions. Recently a number of reviews sponsored by the World Workshop on Oral Medicine VI were published.

Our research

Over the years, the research has comprised integrated physiology and pharmacology with a main focus on autonomic neuroeffector systems and preferentially using salivary glands and, in the past, the lower urinary tract as model organs.

Attention has particularly been paid to choline acetyltransferase and the regulation of the synthesis of acetylcholine, denervation and reinnervation phenomena - supersensitivity and subsensitivity, treatment of salivary gland hypofunction, non-conventional regulatory systems such as neuropeptides and nitric oxide, and recently gastro-intestinal hormones including melatonin and its receptors, and clozapine-induced sialorrhea. Both experimental and clinical studies have been performed.

In earlier days collaborative work was carried out together with laboratories in London (professor John Garrett) and Cambridge (doctor Tony Edwards). In recent years an extensive collaboration has been performed with laboratories in Rome (professor Massimo Castagnola) and Cagliari (professors Alessandro Riva, Irene Messana, Marina Quartu and doctor Francesco Loy) on saliva proteomics and salivary gland morphology, facilitated by a visiting professorship at the Cagliari University.

The research has been supported by the Swedish Medical Research Council and The Science Council