Using host genetics to explore the potential value of oral microbiota sampling as a tool for disease screening

Year of award: 2023


  • Mr Simon Haworth

    University of Bristol, United Kingdom

Project summary

Most healthy people in the UK visit a dentist for regular 'check up' appointments. This creates an opportunity to screen for systemic diseases alongside routine oral health checks, provided there are biomarkers which can be assessed easily and are predictive of both future oral and systemic health. I hypothesise that oral microbiota profile will associate with future oral and systemic health status and plan to test this using two complementary approaches. The key aims are a) To characterize the oral microbiota of 9,000 Swedish twins using nanopore sequencing of the 16s gene in existing biological samples, obtained when the twins were aged 21-47 years. b) To use polygenic scores for common complex disease outcomes as a proxy for pre-clinical disease events and test for association between the polygenic score and oral microbiota composition and function. This aims to identify oral microbiota signals of pre-clinical disease. c) To apply longitudinal modelling to test for association between baseline oral microbiota composition and subsequent disease diagnoses, leveraging around 20 years longitudinal follow-up data from disease registers.