New research into oral microbiome may help reverse periodontitis

0 23 October 2014

AUSTIN, Texas, USA: Studies on the human microbiome have shown that shifts in oral microbiota are associated with a number of diseases, including obesity, Crohn’s disease, diabetes and periodontitis. Now, U.S. scientists have found that oral bacteria act differently in diseased patients compared with healthy individuals. They believe that the findings could be used to develop methods to prevent or even reverse diseases such as periodontal disease. Although it is known that the composition of the microbiome changes during the transition from health to disease, it is still unclear how specific activities of different members of the microbial community affect diseases. In order to understand how different bacteria act in healthy and diseased individuals, researchers at the University of Texas at Austin examined periodontal plaque samples from ten patients from Izmir in Turkey with aggressive periodontitis. Using supercomputers, the researchers compared the expression of 160,000 genes in healthy and diseased periodontal communities and found that these communities show defined differences in metabolism. “In other words, a species of bacteria that ate one thing, such as fructose, can switch to a different kind of sugar to feed on if diseased,” explained Dr. Marvin Whiteley, professor of molecular biosciences at the university. A major question concerning the mechanism underlying the