Mechanical biofilm disruption causes microbial and immunological shifts in periodontitis patients

W. Johnston, B. T. Rosier, A. Artacho, M. Paterson, K. Piela, C. Delaney, J. L. Brown, G. Ramage, A. Mira, S. Culshaw*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
8 Downloads (Pure)


Periodontitis is characterized by subgingival biofilm dysbiosis, inflammation and tissue destruction. Current treatment involves mechanical biofilm disruption known as non-surgical periodontal therapy (NSPT). This study sought to characterise the impact of treatment on microbial diversity and overall community, and the parallel impact on host inflammation in the oral cavity. Fourty-two periodontitis patients were included in this study, with periodontal clinical parameters, subgingival plaque and saliva samples collected at baseline and 90 days after treatment. Salivary cytokines were quantified, and subgingival plaque was analysed using 16S rRNA sequencing. After treatment, there were marked health-associated alterations in microbial composition and diversity, including differential abundance of 42 genera and 61 species. These changes were accompanied by substantial clinical improvement (pockets ≥ 5 mm, 27.50% to 9.00%, p < 0.001) and a decrease in salivary IL-1β (p < 0.001)—a putative marker of periodontal inflammation. Despite significant reductions in disease associated anaerobes, several genera (Fusobacterium, Prevotella, Tanenerella, Treponema) remained present and formed a distinct subnetwork associated with residual disease. Collectively, this study shows that current periodontal treatment results in partial restoration of a healthy microbial ecosystem, but features of biofilm dysbiosis and host inflammation remain in some patients, which were surprisingly independent of clinical response.

Original languageEnglish
Article number9796
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Early online date7 May 2021
Publication statusPublished - 7 May 2021


  • bacteria/classification
  • bacterial physiological phenomena
  • biofilms
  • female
  • humans
  • interleukin-1beta/immunology
  • longitudinal studies
  • male
  • middle aged
  • periodontitis/immunology
  • saliva/immunology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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