Microbiome profiles in periodontitis in relation to host and disease characteristics

PLoS One. 2015 May 18;10(5):e0127077. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0127077. eCollection 2015.


Periodontitis is an inflammatory condition that affects the supporting tissues surrounding teeth. The occurrence of periodontitis is associated with shifts in the structure of the communities that inhabit the gingival sulcus. Although great inter-subject variability in the subgingival microbiome has been observed in subjects with periodontitis, it is unclear whether distinct community types exist and if differences in microbial signatures correlate with host characteristics or with the variable clinical presentations of periodontitis. Therefore, in this study we explored the existence of different community types in periodontitis and their relationship with host demographic, medical and disease-related clinical characteristics. Clustering analyses of microbial abundance profiles suggested two types of communities (A and B) existed in the 34 subjects with periodontitis evaluated. Type B communities harbored greater proportions of certain periodontitis-associated taxa, including species historically associated with the disease, such as Porphyromonas gingivalis, Tannerella forsythia and Treponema denticola, and taxa recently linked to periodontitis. In contrast, subjects with type A communities had increased proportions of different periodontitis-associated species, and were also enriched for health-associated species and core taxa (those equally prevalent in health and periodontitis). Periodontitis subgingival clusters were not associated with demographic, medical or disease-specific clinical parameters other than periodontitis extent (proportion of sites affected), which positively correlated with the total proportion of cluster B signature taxa. In conclusion, two types of microbial communities were detected in subjects with periodontitis. Host demographics and underlying medical conditions did not correlate with these profiles, which instead appeared to be related to periodontitis extent, with type B communities present in more widespread disease cases. The two identified periodontitis profiles may represent distinct dysbiotic processes potentially requiring community-tailored therapeutic interventions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Cluster Analysis
  • Demography
  • Female
  • Gingiva / microbiology
  • Gingiva / pathology
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Microbiota*
  • Middle Aged
  • Periodontitis / microbiology*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Statistics, Nonparametric