Erica L. Scheller, DDS, PhD

Erica L. Scheller, DDS, PhD

Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of Bone and Mineral Diseases

Research Interest


Metabolic Regulation and Obesity

Category(ies) of Research



Descriptor of Research

Diabetes, a major risk factor for development of periodontal disease, has increased in prevalence
by 400% since 1980. Of the 25 million diabetic patients in the United States, it is estimated that 7.5
million have severe periodontitis. It is generally accepted that the severity of periodontal disease is correlated with the presence of inflammation. However, inflammation fails to completely explain the rapid progression of periodontal disease, generalized skeletal bone loss, and marrow fat accumulation that can be observed in young insulin-dependent diabetics with low plaque levels and good oral hygiene. Therefore, it is likely that other mechanisms are mediating the coupling of bone loss and diabetes. Since 1967 it has been repeatedly noted that clinical neuropathy is correlated with both the prevalence and severity of periodontal disease in diabetic patients. The skeleton and periodontal complex are highly innervated and local changes in nerve function have the capacity to regulate both the bone microenvironment and the overlying inflammatory response. However, despite significant correlative evidence linking neuropathy and periodontal disease in diabetes, the ability of local neuropathic change to contribute to bone loss, marrow fat accumulation and periodontal disease development in diabetes remains unexplored. Our central hypothesis is that in diabetes, sensory denervation and depletion of sensory neuropeptides in the skeleton enhances vasoconstriction and accumulation of marrow fat while limiting bone regeneration. These changes would predispose diabetic patients to development of osteopenia and progression of periodontal disease.

Division of Biology & Biomedical Sciences

Scheller and Craft Lab