Cigarette smoking and the oral microbiome in a large study of American adults

ISME J. 2016 Oct;10(10):2435-46. doi: 10.1038/ismej.2016.37. Epub 2016 Mar 25.


Oral microbiome dysbiosis is associated with oral disease and potentially with systemic diseases; however, the determinants of these microbial imbalances are largely unknown. In a study of 1204 US adults, we assessed the relationship of cigarette smoking with the oral microbiome. 16S rRNA gene sequencing was performed on DNA from oral wash samples, sequences were clustered into operational taxonomic units (OTUs) using QIIME and metagenomic content was inferred using PICRUSt. Overall oral microbiome composition differed between current and non-current (former and never) smokers (P<0.001). Current smokers had lower relative abundance of the phylum Proteobacteria (4.6%) compared with never smokers (11.7%) (false discovery rate q=5.2 × 10(-7)), with no difference between former and never smokers; the depletion of Proteobacteria in current smokers was also observed at class, genus and OTU levels. Taxa not belonging to Proteobacteria were also associated with smoking: the genera Capnocytophaga, Peptostreptococcus and Leptotrichia were depleted, while Atopobium and Streptococcus were enriched, in current compared with never smokers. Functional analysis from inferred metagenomes showed that bacterial genera depleted by smoking were related to carbohydrate and energy metabolism, and to xenobiotic metabolism. Our findings demonstrate that smoking alters the oral microbiome, potentially leading to shifts in functional pathways with implications for smoking-related diseases.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bacteria / classification
  • Bacteria / genetics
  • Bacteria / isolation & purification*
  • Dysbiosis / microbiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Metagenome
  • Metagenomics
  • Microbiota*
  • Mouth / microbiology*
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / genetics
  • Smoking / adverse effects
  • United States
  • Young Adult


  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S