Nitrate reduction capacity of the oral microbiota is impaired in periodontitis: potential implications for systemic nitric oxide availability

Bob T. Rosier, William Johnston, Miguel Carda-Dieguez, Annabel Simpson, Elena Cabello-Yeves, Krystyna Piela, Alejandro Artacho, Chris Easton, Mia Burleigh, Shauna Culshaw, Alex Mira*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
34 Downloads (Pure)


The reduction of nitrate to nitrite by the oral microbiota has been proposed to be important for oral health and results in nitric oxide formation that can improve cardiometabolic conditions. Studies of bacterial composition in subgingival plaque suggest that nitrate-reducing bacteria are associated with periodontal health, but the impact of periodontitis on nitrate-reducing capacity (NRC) and, therefore, nitric oxide availability has not been evaluated. The current study aimed to evaluate how periodontitis affects the NRC of the oral microbiota. First, 16S rRNA sequencing data from five different countries were analyzed, revealing that nitrate-reducing bacteria were significantly lower in subgingival plaque of periodontitis patients compared with healthy individuals (P < 0.05 in all five datasets with n = 20-82 samples per dataset). Secondly, subgingival plaque, saliva, and plasma samples were obtained from 42 periodontitis patients before and after periodontal treatment. The oral NRC was determined in vitro by incubating saliva with 8 mmol/L nitrate (a concentration found in saliva after nitrate-rich vegetable intake) and compared with the NRC of 15 healthy individuals. Salivary NRC was found to be diminished in periodontal patients before treatment (P < 0.05) but recovered to healthy levels 90 days post-treatment. Additionally, the subgingival levels of nitrate-reducing bacteria increased after treatment and correlated negatively with periodontitis-associated bacteria (P < 0.01). No significant effect of periodontal treatment on the baseline saliva and plasma nitrate and nitrite levels was found, indicating that differences in the NRC may only be revealed after nitrate intake. Our results suggest that an impaired NRC in periodontitis could limit dietary nitrate-derived nitric oxide levels, and the effect on systemic health should be explored in future studies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Oral Science
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jan 2024

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Periodontics
  • Microbiology


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