Keiko Watanabe, DDS, MS, PhD

Associate Professor of Periodontics
Diplomate, American Board of Periodontology

(312) 996-0636
UICollaboratory Profile

Research Interests

Research in my laboratory has two major foci. The first project investigates the effects of periodontitis on prediabetes and T2DM. Periodontitis is a chronic inflammatory disease of the periodontium triggered by bacterial byproducts such as LPS. This exuberant inflammatory response to bacterial products around the teeth leads to loss of tooth supporting bone (alveolar bone). It is believed that a close relationship exists between periodontitis, T2DM, and obesity with chronic inflammation being the common denominator. However, the precise mechanism responsible for this association has not been established due to the difficulty in investigating a cause and effect relationship in human subjects. Thus we use animal model system of chronic periodontitis and investigate: 1) the effects of periodontitis, in conjunction with diet, on various organs including liver, retina, aorta and pancreas, 2) the mechanisms by which organ damage occurs via periodontitis. 3) mechanisms by which periodontitis influence whole body glucose homeostasis.

The second project investigates early detection of oral cancer. Oral SCC is an aggressive epithelial malignancy that is the sixth most common neoplasm in the world today. At the current rate of incidence, approximately 40,000 cases in the United States and more than 500,000 cases worldwide will be diagnosed each year. The fact that the mortality rate from oral SCC has remained at 50% for the past five decades indicates that early detection of oral cancer will be of importance in reducing the mortality rate. In this project we use various methods to determine if PTK6 can be used as a prognostic marker to identity premalignant lesions which ultimately become malignant.


Watanabe, K, Petro, B.J., Shlimon, A.E., and Unterman, T.G. Effect of periodontitis on insulin resistance and the onset of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus in ZDF rats. accepted for publication in J Periodontol 79(7): 1208-1216, 2008.

Petro, B.J., Tan, R.C., Tyner, A.L., Lingen, M.W., and Watanabe, K*. Differential expression of the non-receptor tyrosine kinase BRK in oral squamous cell carcinoma and normal oral epithelium. Oral Oncology 40: 1040-1047, 2004.

Watanabe, K, Petro, B.J., Sevandal, M., Anshuman, S., Jovanovic, A. and Tyner, AL. Histochemical examination of periodontal junctional epithelium in p21/p27 double knockout mice. Eur J Oral Sci 112: 253-258, 2004.

Chang B-D., Watanabe K., Broude E.V., Fung J., Poole J.C., Kalinichenko T.V. and I.B. Roninson. Effect of p21WAF/CIP/SDI1 on cellular gene expression: Implications for carcinogenesis, senescence and age-related diseases. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 97 (8): 4291-4296, 2000.

Dr. Watanabe

Research Areas