JMM Editor's Choice: how does smoking affect the oral microbiome?

Posted on August 5, 2019   by Microbiology Society

The Journal of Medical Microbiology (JMM) is a journal published by the Microbiology Society, focused on providing a comprehensive coverage of medical, dental and veterinary microbiology and infectious diseases, including bacteriology, virology, mycology and parasitology. This month, Dr Direk Limmathurotsakul has selected an outstanding paper from the July issue to highlight as Editor's Choice. The paper, titled 'Analysis of the effect of smoking on the buccal microbiome using next-generation sequencing technology' discusses the effect smoking tobacco has on bacterial communities that exist on the inside of the cheek.

Smoking could make the oral bacterial microbiome carcinogenic. In their research article, Karabudak et al. compared the buccal microbiomes of smokers and non-smokers using next-generation sequencing technology. Microbiomes in the mouths of smokers had more Veillonella and Actinomyces bacteria that could consume nitrate and activate carcinogenic nitrosamines from tobacco smoking.

The study found relative abundances of bacteria at the species level (Veillonella atypica, Streptococcus australis, Prevotella salivae, Prevotella melaninogenica and Rothia mucilaginosa) in the smoker group. This research is another piece of evidence to help us understand our oral microbiome and its relationship with smoking and cancer.  

Analysis of the effect of smoking on the buccal microbiome using next-generation sequencing technology

Smoking may change the microbiome and ultimately lead to disease. Our experimental studies conducted on buccal samples of smokers and non-smokers confirmed that smoking changed both the composition and abundance of the buccal microbiome. Smokers were predominated by Actinomyces spp., Veillonella atypica, Prevotella melaninogenica, and Rothia mucilaginosa, which are involved in the production of carcinogenic nitrosamines and pro-inflammatory nitric oxide. Thus, our study indicates a possible relationship between cancer and smoking-related changes in the microbiome composition. Significant increase in the anaerobic bacteria, which are able to produce hydrogen sulfide in smokers, might be one of the reasons for oral malodour in smokers.