The Human Salivary Antimicrobial Peptide Profile according to the Oral Microbiota in Health, Periodontitis and Smoking

J Innate Immun. 2019;11(5):432-444. doi: 10.1159/000494146. Epub 2018 Nov 28.


Antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) are a diverse family of peptides that defend the mucosal surfaces of the oral cavity and other locations. Many AMPs have multiple functions and properties that influence aspects of innate defense and colonization by microorganisms. The human oral cavity is home to the second-most diverse microbiome, and the health of the mouth is influenced by the presence of these bacteria as well as by extrinsic factors such as periodontitis and smoking. This study hypothesized that the AMP profile is different in the presence of extrinsic factors and that this would also be reflected in the bacteria present. The AMP profile was analyzed by quantitative selected-reaction-monitoring mass spectrometry analysis and 40 bacterial species were quantified by DNA-DNA hybridization in saliva donated by 41 individuals. Periodontal status was assessed through dental examination and smoking status through medical charting. Periodontal health (in nonsmokers) was associated with a higher abundance of ribonuclease 7, protachykinin 1, β-defensin 128, lipocalin 1, bactericidal permeability-increasing protein fold-containing family B member 3, and bone-marrow proteoglycan. Nonsmoking periodontal disease was associated with an abundance of neutrophil defensin 1 and cathelicidin. However, 7 AMPs were overabundant in periodontal disease in smokers: adrenomedullin, eosinophil peroxidase, 3 different histones, myeloperoxidase, and neutrophil defensin 1. There were no differentially abundant AMPs in smokers versus nonsmokers with periodontal health. Correlation network inference of healthy nonsmokers, healthy smokers, nonsmoking periodontitis, or smoking periodontitis donors demonstrated very different networks growing in complexity with increasing numbers of stressors. The study highlights the importance of the interaction between the oral cavity and its resident microbiota and how this may be influenced by periodontal disease and smoking.

Keywords: Antimicrobial peptides; Inflammation; Periodontitis; Saliva.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antimicrobial Cationic Peptides / genetics
  • Antimicrobial Cationic Peptides / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Microbiota* / genetics
  • Middle Aged
  • Mouth / metabolism
  • Mouth / microbiology*
  • Periodontitis / metabolism
  • Periodontitis / microbiology
  • Saliva / metabolism*
  • Smoking / adverse effects
  • Sweden


  • Antimicrobial Cationic Peptides