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Links between oral microbiome, genetic variations and periodontitis examined in new study

A group of researchers has assessed the importance of genetic differences and the nature of one's oral microbiome in the development of periodontitis. (Image: NassornSnitwong/Shutterstock)

Tue. 28 September 2021


OKAYAMA, Japan: Since periodontitis has been linked to systemic health conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease, research is continually being conducted to better understand its causes. To this end, a new study out of Japan has interrogated the associations between genetic polymorphisms—the most common type of human genetic variation—oral microbiome statuses, and the development of periodontal disease.

A team of researchers spread across several Japanese universities conducted the study. They first performed a cross-sectional analysis during which they genotypically analysed 14,539 participants and carried out saliva sampling of a group of 385. Of this group, 22 individuals were retained for the study and divided into a periodontitis group and a control group based on their periodontal status.

In a press release, the researchers explained that the development of infections, oral or otherwise, is affected by genetic differences among individuals, as these differences can affect susceptibility to certain pathogens and the likelihood of contracting certain diseases.

“Several studies on periodontitis have shown that the development of the disease is associated with the nature of the oral microbiome as well as with genetic polymorphism,” said Dr Naoki Toyama, assistant professor in Okayama University’s Department of Preventive Dentistry.

“However, there is no study that simultaneously assesses the importance of these two risk factors in developing the disease.”

Upon examination, the research team found that the beta diversity of the microbes—the ratio between regional and local microbe species diversity—was significantly different between the periodontitis group and control group. Two bacterial families (Lactobacillaceae and Desulfobulbaceae), as well as the bacterium Porphyromonas gingivalis, were found only in the periodontitis group. However, no relationship was found to exist between genetic polymorphism and periodontal status, suggesting that the make-up of one’s oral microbiome plays a greater role in periodontal health than genes do.

“The fact that the prevalence of periodontitis is associated with the members of the microbiome rather than the genetic identity of the individual would motivate clinicians to pay more attention to microbiome composition than to host factors in the routine work of periodontal examination, and design customised treatment strategy for periodontitis,” Toyama commented.

The study, titled “Comprehensive analysis of risk factors for periodontitis focusing on the saliva microbiome and polymorphism”, was published online on 14 June 2021 in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.

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