SUNY Buffalo Study Will Lay Foundation for Research on Oral Microbiome and Chronic Diseases of Aging

Published October 16, 2014

Jean Wactawski-Wende, PhD, interim dean and professor of epidemiology and environmental health at the University at Buffalo School of Public Health and Health Professions is the principal investigator on the study, “Oral Microbiome and Periodontitis: A Prospective Study in Postmenopausal Women”.

This study proposes to conduct a 15 year post baseline clinical examination in a defined cohort of older post-menopausal women, who already completed baseline and five-year examinations, to examine prospective associations among subgingival microbiota, personal characteristics, and periodontal disease presence, severity and progression over time.

“To our knowledge, there is no prospective epidemiologic study as large and rich with available data resources that can address the cutting-edge questions we propose here on the oral microbiome and its relationship to periodontitis in postmenopausal women,” stated Wactawski-Wende.

Periodontal disease is one of the most common diseases in older adults. Periodontal disease etiology involves altered host immune responses to subgingival insult by a complex polymicrobial biofilm that is not completely understood. Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) using culture-independent techniques to identify 16S rRNA genes allows for more complete and detailed characterization of the complex composition and diversity of the human oral microbiome. This study will utilize these techniques to further characterize oral bacteria that are associated with periodontal disease prevalence, severity, and progression over time. These studies are ancillary to the Women’s Health Initiative.

The study aims are to determine the composition and diversity of the subgingival microbiome at three times points; determine the extent to which the oral microbiome composition changes over time; identify which oral microbiome compositions are associated with periodontal disease presence, severity, and progression over time; and determine the influence of key personal characteristics on the oral microbiome composition and its relation with periodontal disease status and progression. The study will utilize available data and samples from the 1,000 women seen at year five and these same 1,000 women at baseline, and samples and data to be collected from 600 women at year 15 to achieve these aims. In the future, this information could inform strategies for prevention and treatment of periodontal disease.

The study is sponsored by the NIH, National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research for a total of $3,823,211.  The project period ends July 31, 2019.