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Tobacco exposure associated with oral microbiota oxygen utilization in the New York City Health and Nutrition Examination Study

By Francesco Beghini, Audrey Renson, Stephen E. Harris, Ludwig Geistlinger, Mykhaylo Usyk, Thomas U. Moody, Lorna E. Thorpe, Jennifer B. Dowd, Robert Burk, Nicola Segata, Heidi E. Jones, Levi Waldron

Posted 14 Nov 2018
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/470286 (published DOI: 10.1016/j.annepidem.2019.03.005)

Purpose: The effect of tobacco exposure on the oral microbiome has not been established. Methods: We performed amplicon sequencing of the 16S ribosomal RNA gene V4 variable region to estimate bacterial community characteristics in 259 oral rinse samples, selected based on self-reported smoking and serum cotinine levels, from the 2013-14 New York City Health and Nutrition Examination Study. We identified differentially abundant operational taxonomic units (OTUs) by primary and secondhand tobacco exposure, and employed "microbe set enrichment analysis" to assess shifts in microbial oxygen utilization. Results: Cigarette smoking was associated with depletion of aerobic OTUs (Enrichment Score test statistic ES = -0.75, p = 0.002) with a minority (29%) of aerobic OTUs enriched in current smokers compared to never smokers. Consistent shifts in the microbiota were observed for current cigarette smokers as for non-smokers with secondhand exposure as measured by serum cotinine levels. Differential abundance findings were similar in crude and adjusted analyses. Conclusion: Results support a plausible link between tobacco exposure and shifts in the oral microbiome at the population level through three lines of evidence: 1) a shift in microbiota oxygen utilization associated with primary tobacco smoke exposure, 2) consistency of abundance fold-changes associated with current smoking and shifts along the gradient of secondhand smoke exposure among non-smokers, and 3) consistency after adjusting for a priori hypothesized confounders.

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