Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences

Jessie Alfaro

Ph.D. Student

Research Topic

Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders (TMJD) are functionally heterogeneous conditions of the mastication system affecting the jaw joint, masticatory muscles, and ligaments. Despite a large percentage of the population suffering from some type of TMJ pain, treatment remains ineffective. The pathophysiology of TMJD is still unknown. However, there is an agreement that TMJD increases the responsiveness of sensory neurons innervating TMJ ligament and connected lateral pterygoid muscle.  My research focuses on thoroughly characterizing the sensory neurons that innervate the TMJ in na├»ve and TMJD subjects, including the role of specific receptors and mediators as well as sex and age-dependent plasticity of sensory neuronal groups that innervate TMJ and determines TMJD disorder pathology.