Photo of Keiko Watanabe

Keiko Watanabe, DDS, MS, PhD

Emeritus Professor , Diplomate, American Board of Periodontology




UIC College of Dentistry 801 S. Paulina St, IL 60612

Office Phone:

(312) 996-0636



Dr. Watanabe is a Professor, board certified periodontist, and the Director of Post Graduate Research in Periodontics at the College of Dentistry, University of Illinois at Chicago.

Dr. Watanabe received her BS degree in Biological Science and DDS degree from the University of Southern California, a Certificate in Periodontics from the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry, and an MS degree in Biological Chemistry and a PhD in Molecular Genetics from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

She has been teaching periodontics since 1986 and engaged in faculty practice since 2000. Her research focuses on the effect of periodontitis on glucose homeostasis, particularly focusing on prediabetes which can be a prelude to type 2 diabetes.  

Dr. Watanabe’s philosophy for teaching periodontics is to integrate basic science knowledge from the published literature with clinical observations. Thus, she combines her training in the biological sciences with her experience in treating patients. Her teaching style, based on her philosophy, is that students must know their patients well, both through their medical history and their periodontal condition. No patients are the same and each patient should be treated based on data collected from the patient, for example: oral hygiene condition, medications taken, genetic susceptibility/risk factors and patient preferences, and thus treatment can be tailored specifically to each patient.

Dr. Watanabe’s laboratory focuses on studying the direct effect of periodontitis on the development of prediabetes and diabetes and how different organs are orchestrated to coordinate this interrelationship. Her laboratory has developed unique animal model systems to investigate mechanisms by which periodontitis influences whole body glucose homeostasis and associated metabolic changes over a prolonged time to mimic chronic periodontitis. The mission of Dr. Watanabe’s laboratory is to identify pathways and mechanisms by which periodontitis cross-talks with other organs and how this cross-talk influences glucose homeostasis such that findings can be translated into intervention for developing both periodontitis and prediabetes/diabetes.

Selected Publications

Ilievski V, Kinchen JM, Prabhu R, Rim F, Leoni L, Unterman TG, Watanabe K*. Experimental Periodontitis Results in Prediabetes and Metabolic Alterations in Brain, Liver and Heart: Global Untargeted metabolomics Analyses. J Oral Biol, April, 2016.

Ilievski V, Cho Y, Katwala P, Rodriguez H, Tulowiecka M, Kurian D, Leoni L, Christman JW, Unterman TG, Watanabe K* TLR4 Expression by Liver Resident Cells Mediates the Development of Glucose Intolerance and Insulin Resistance in Experimental Periodontitis. PloS one, August 28, 2015.  DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0136502, PMCID: PMC4552742

Bhat UG, Watanabe K*. (2015). Serpine1 Mediates Porphyromonas gingivalis Induced Insulin Secretion in the Pancreatic Beta Cell Line MIN6. J Oral Biol 2015 Apr;2(2). doi: 10.13188/2377-987X.1000008, PMCID: PMC4511159

Cho YD and Watanabe K*.  Periodontitis and Metabolic Syndrome: A Qualitative Critical Review of the Association between the two Diseases.  Arch Oral Biol 59(8):855-870, 2014

Bhat UG, Ilievski V, Unterman TG, Watanabe K*.  Porphyromonas gingivalis lipopolysaccharide (LPS) upregulates insulin secretion from pancreatic beta cell line MIN6. J Periodontol 85(11):1629-36, 2014

Özdemir SP, Kurtiş B, Tüter G, Bozkurt S, Gultekiin SE, Sengüven B, Watanabe K,  Aydın S.   Effects of low dose Doxycyline and Bisphosponate clodronate on gingival levels of matrix metalloproteinases-9, interleukin-1β and alveolar one loss in diabetic rats. A histological and Immunohistochemical study.   J Periodontol 83(9):1172-1182, 2012.

Watanabe K*.  Periodontitis in diabetics: Is collaboration between physicians and dentists needed? Disease-A-Month 57(4):206-213, 2011.

Kwong TS, Kusnoto B, Viana G, Evans CA, Watanabe K. The effectiveness of Oraqix versus TAC(a) for placement of orthodontic temporary anchorage devices. Angle Orthodontist 81(5):754-759, 2011.

Watanabe K*, Iizuka T, Adeleki A, Pham L, Shlimon AE, Yasin M, Horvath P, and Unterman TG.   Involvement of Toll-like receptor 4 in alveolar bone loss and glucose homeostasis in experimental periodontitis.  J Periodontal Res 46:21-30, 2011

Watanabe K*, Petro BJ, Shlimon AE, and Unterman TG.  Effect of periodontitis on insulin resistance and the onset of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus in ZDF rats. J Periodontol 79(7): 1208-1216, 2008.