March 8, 2017

Role for mouth microbes in diabetes?

A higher abundance of certain bacterial species in the mouth appears to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, Vanderbilt investigators have discovered.

The oral microbiome – microbial species in the mouth – has been suggested to have a role in systemic health.

Jirong Long, Ph.D., and colleagues investigated a link between the oral microbiome and diabetes. They compared oral microbiome profiles for participants in the Southern Community Cohort Study: 98 people diagnosed with diabetes after enrolling in the study, 99 obese non-diabetic individuals and 97 normal weight non-diabetic individuals.

The researchers analyzed bacterial species present in biological samples collected at enrollment (before diabetes diagnosis) and found that a higher abundance of Actinobacteria type microbes was associated with a decreased risk of type 2 diabetes. In particular, Actinomyces and Atopobium were associated with 66 percent and 72 percent decreased risk, respectively. Actinobacteria were also less abundant in obese non-diabetic subjects, compared to normal weight subjects.

The findings, reported in the Journal of Periodontal Research, support a role for the oral microbiome in diabetes and suggest that targeting the oral microbiome may offer opportunities for treating diabetes.

This research was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health (CA068485, RR030956, CA092447) and by the Department of Medicine at Vanderbilt University.

Send suggestions for articles to highlight in Aliquots and any other feedback about the column to