Clinical and Bacterial Markers of Periodontitis and Their Association with Incident All-Cause and Alzheimer's Disease Dementia in a Large National Survey

J Alzheimers Dis. 2020;75(1):157-172. doi: 10.3233/JAD-200064.


Microbial agents including periodontal pathogens have recently appeared as important actors in Alzheimer's disease (AD) pathology. We examined associations of clinical periodontal and bacterial parameters with incident all-cause and AD dementia as well as AD mortality among US middle-aged and older adults. Clinical [Attachment Loss (AL); probing pocket depth (PPD)] and bacterial [pathogen immunoglobulin G (IgG)] periodontal markers were investigated in relation to AD and all-cause dementia incidence and to AD mortality, using data from the third National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES III, 1988-1994) linked longitudinally with National Death Index and Medicare data through January 1, 2014, with up to 26 years of follow-up. Sex- and age-specific multivariable-adjusted Cox proportional hazards models were conducted. Among those ≥65 years, AD incidence and mortality were consistently associated with PPD, two factors and one cluster comprised of IgG titers against Porphyromonas gingivalis (P. gingivalis), Prevotella melaninogenica (P. melaninogenica) and Campylobacter rectus (C. rectus) among others. Specifically, AD incidence was linked to a composite of C. rectus and P. gingivalis titers (per SD, aHR = 1.22; 95% CI, 1.04-1.43, p = 0.012), while AD mortality risk was increased with another composite (per SD, aHR = 1.46; 95% CI, 1.09-1.96, p = 0.017) loading highly on IgG for P. gingivalis, Prevotella intermedia, Prevotella nigrescens, Fusobacterium nucleatum, C. rectus, Streptococcus intermedius, Capnocylophaga Ochracea, and P. melaninogenica. This study provides evidence for an association between periodontal pathogens and AD, which was stronger for older adults. Effectiveness of periodontal pathogen treatment on reducing sequelae of neurodegeneration should be tested in randomized controlled trials.

Keywords: Aging; Alzheimer’s disease; dementia; periodontal pathogens; periodontitis.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Alzheimer Disease / epidemiology*
  • Alzheimer Disease / microbiology
  • Alzheimer Disease / mortality
  • Campylobacter rectus / isolation & purification
  • Dementia / epidemiology*
  • Dementia / microbiology
  • Dementia / mortality
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Periodontitis / epidemiology*
  • Periodontitis / microbiology
  • Porphyromonas gingivalis / isolation & purification
  • Prevotella melaninogenica / isolation & purification
  • United States