Division of Oral Developmental Biology

Oral Anatomy and Developmental Biology
(Department of Oral Anatomy and Developmental Biology)

Department of Oral Anatomy and Developmental Biology was established in 1951. Our department educates developmental biology, oral anatomy and oral histology/embryology to undergraduate students.

ProfessorSatoshi WAKISAKA
Associate ProfessorTakashi MAEDA
Associate ProfessorMakoto ABE
Assistant ProfessorChizuko INUI

■ Research Topics

Oral cavity is the entrance of digestive system, thus the main function of oral cavity is digestion. The main topic of our research is “development and regeneration of orofacial structures.”

1. Sensory receptors in oral region

Among various types of sensory receptors in the oral region, we focus on morphological and functional development and regeneration of the gustatory receptors (taste buds) and somatosensory receptors (nociceptors and mechanoreceptors).

2. Cranio-facial development

We investigate the mechanism of craniofacial development, particularly skeletogenesis, using various in vivo and in vitro methods.

Taste bud cells participating bitter reception (green)

Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics
(Department of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics)

The mission of the Department is to train Japanese and international orthodontic clinicians, academicians, and leaders in the profession. We promote the basic and clinical researches on important orthodontic and other health-related topics. Especially, we emphasize the biological basis of growth and development in the tooth and craniofacial complex and its disorder. Our orthodontic clinic functions in close collaboration with Oral Surgery Clinic and The Osaka University Cleft Palate Center, which is the largest in Japan. Graduate students experience various types of interdisciplinary orthodontic treatment.

ProfessorTakashi YAMASHIRO
Associate ProfessorChihiro TANIKAWA
Associate ProfessorHiroshi KUROSAKA
Associate ProfessorToshihiro INUBUSHI
Assistant ProfessorShinsuke ITOH
Assistant Professor Ayaka OKA
Assistant Professor Yuka MURATA


1.Growth and developmental of tooth and craniofacial complex

The goal of this research project is to identify cellular and molecular causes for craniofacial and tooth development. A variety of approaches are utilized, including animal models that are characterized through molecular biological and biochemical analyses and various imaging techniques.

Runx1 deficiency results in anterior clefting in the palate

These investigation leads our research field furthermore so that novel diagnostic or preventive medicine for congenital craniofacial anomalies could be developed. We are interested in the followings;

  • Epithelial fusion of the palatal process
  • Odontoblast differentiation and sugar chain modification
  • Epigenetic influences on development of malocclusion
  • Runx/Cbfb signaling in tooth and craniofacial development
  • Genetic and epidemiologic studies of human populations, regards to congenital craniofacial abnormalities.
Reduction of retinoic acid signaling leads to embryonic craniofacial defects

2.Mathematical modeling of mouth and face

Both facial appearance and facial expressions play an important role as a means of nonverbal communication in the transmission of emotions and thoughts in social life; thus, facial morphologies exert a strong influence for individuals on obtaining socially acceptable self-image. A repaired cleft lip and palate (CLP) is characterized by scar tissue that generally results in obvious facial deformities and distorted facial expressions, which may cause serious sociopsychological issues with respect to self-image. From a sociopsychological standpoint, establishment of an acceptable facial appearance including motions for each patient with CLP has become a crucial treatment goal in surgical/orthodontic clinics. Thus, we are interested in the followings;

  1. Changes in facial topography associated with facial expressions in patients with a cleft lip/palate
  2. Development of a mathematical model that predicts the facial morphologies after orthodontic treatment
Averaged 3D faces for patients with a repaired unilateral cleft lip/palate

Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology
(Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology)

As a leading department in the oral and maxillofacial radiology, we research the better image diagnosis and radiotherapy in the head and neck region with using up-to-date machines.

ProfessorShumei MURAKAMI
Assistant ProfessorTadashi SASAI
Assistant ProfessorYuka UCHIYAMA
Assistant ProfessorAtsutoshi NAKATANI
Assistant ProfessorIori SUMIDA
Assistant ProfessorHiroaki SHIMAMOTO
Assistant ProfessorTomomi TSUJIMOTO

■ Research Activities

1)Brain mapping on oral functions with fMRI

Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) is a type of specialized MRI scan. It measures the hemodynamic response (change in blood flow) related to neural activity in the brain of humans. It is one of the most recently developed forms of neuroimaging. Since the early 1990s, fMRI has come to dominate the brain mapping field due to its relatively low invasiveness, absence of radiation exposure, and relatively wide availability.

In our department an activated brain area on the tasting, mandibular movement, tooth perception is studied.

In the right figure the activated brain area on teeth tapping is highlighted in red.

2)Metallic artifacts on MR image

MRI is one of tomography and it needs not ionizing irradiation. MRI can produce any optional tomographic planes and has the greater contrast between soft tissues.
So, MRI has been used also in the dental filed. However, one drawback of MRI is the appearance of huge artifact by some metals. In our dental field many kinds of metals are used and set in the mouth, so the image diagnosis cannot be done.
In our department a method and device of a reduction of the artifact is studied.

In the left figure MR image is distorted by a dental metal.

3)Reduction of side effect of radiation therapy for oral cancer

We have just started the radiation therapy (RT) for the oral cancer by the intensity modulated RT (IMRT) machine and image-guided RT (IGRT) machine. Using the IMRT and IGRT the side effect of the radiation therapy will be reduced. But in the oral and maxillofacial region some radiosensitive organs such as the bone marrow and salivary gland are included. So we are seeking good methods and devices for a reduction of the side effect of the radiation therapy for the oral cancer.