The subgingival microbiome in patients with established rheumatoid arthritis

Ted R. Mikuls, Clay Walker, Fang Qiu, Fang Yu, Geoffrey M. Thiele, Barnett Alfant, Eric C. Li, Lisa Y. Zhao, Gary P. Wang, Susmita Datta, Jeffrey B. Payne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Objectives. To profile and compare the subgingival microbiome of RA patients with OA controls. Methods. RA (n = 260) and OA (n = 296) patients underwent full-mouth examination and subgingival samples were collected. Bacterial DNA was profiled using 16 S rRNA Illumina sequencing. Following data filtering and normalization, hierarchical clustering analysis was used to group samples. Multivariable regression was used to examine associations of patient factors with membership in the two largest clusters. Differential abundance between RA and OA was examined using voom method and linear modelling with empirical Bayes moderation (Linear Models for Microarray Analysis, limma), accounting for the effects of periodontitis, race, marital status and smoking. Results. Alpha diversity indices were similar in RA and OA after accounting for periodontitis. After filtering, 286 taxa were available for analysis. Samples grouped into one of seven clusters with membership sizes of 324, 223, 3, 2, 2, 1 and 1 patients, respectively. RA-OA status was not associated with cluster membership. Factors associated with cluster 1 (vs 2) membership included periodontitis, smoking, marital status and Caucasian race. Accounting for periodontitis, 10 taxa (3.5% of those examined) were in lower abundance in RA than OA. There were no associations between lower abundance taxa or other select taxa examined with RA autoantibody concentrations. Conclusion. Leveraging data from a large case±control study and accounting for multiple factors known to influence oral health status, results from this study failed to identify a subgingival microbial fingerprint that could reliably discriminate RA from OA patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1162-1172
Number of pages11
JournalRheumatology (United Kingdom)
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2018


  • Osteoarthritis
  • Periodontitis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Subgingival microbiome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rheumatology
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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