A Mediterranean Diet Intervention Reduces the Levels of Salivary Periodontopathogenic Bacteria in Overweight and Obese Subjects

Appl Environ Microbiol. 2020 Jun 2;86(12):e00777-20. doi: 10.1128/AEM.00777-20. Print 2020 Jun 2.


The human oral cavity is a complex ecosystem, and the alterations in salivary microbial communities are associated with both oral and nonoral diseases. The Mediterranean diet (MD) is a healthy dietary pattern useful for both prevention and treatment of several diseases. To further explore the effects of the MD on human health, in this study, we investigated the changes in the salivary microbial communities in overweight/obese subjects after an individually tailored MD-based nutritional intervention. Healthy overweight and obese subjects were randomized between two intervention groups. The MD group (Med-D group) increased their MD adherence during 8 weeks of intervention while the control diet (control-D) group did not change their dietary habits. The salivary microbiota was assessed at baseline and after 4 and 8 weeks of intervention. Despite no observed changes in the overall salivary microbiota composition, we found a significant decrease in the relative abundances of species-level operational taxonomic units annotated as Porphyromonas gingivalis, Prevotella intermedia, and Treponema denticola in the Med-D group compared to that in the control-D group after 8 weeks of intervention, which are known to be associated with periodontal disease. Such variations were significantly linked to dietary variables such as MD adherence rates and intakes of animal versus vegetable proteins. In addition, increased levels of Streptococcus cristatus were observed in the Med-D group, which has been reported as an antagonistic taxon inhibiting P. gingivalis gene expression. Our findings suggest that an MD-based nutritional intervention may be implicated in reducing periodontal bacteria, and an MD may be a dietary strategy supportive of oral homeostasis.IMPORTANCE Changes in dietary behavior with increased adherence to a Mediterranean diet can determine a reduction of periodontopathogenic bacterial abundances in the saliva of overweight subjects with cardiometabolic risk due to an unhealthy lifestyle, without any change in individual energy intake, nutrient intake, and physical activity.

Keywords: Mediterranean diet; nutritional intervention; periodontitis; salivary microbiota.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bacterial Physiological Phenomena
  • Diet, Mediterranean*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity*
  • Overweight*
  • Periodontal Diseases / microbiology
  • Periodontal Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Random Allocation
  • Saliva / microbiology*
  • Young Adult

Grant support

The study was conducted within the Diet-Induced Arrangement of the gut Microbiome for the Improvement of Cardiometabolic health (DINAMIC) project funded within the European Joint Programming Initiative "A Healthy Diet for a Healthy Life" (JPI HDHL) - Joint Action "Intestinal Microbiomics".