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Cigarette smoking and oral microbiota in low-income and African-American populations
  1. Yaohua Yang1,
  2. Wei Zheng1,
  3. Qiu-Yin Cai1,
  4. Martha J Shrubsole1,
  5. Zhiheng Pei2,
  6. Robert Brucker3,
  7. Mark D Steinwandel4,
  8. Seth R Bordenstein5,
  9. Zhigang Li6,
  10. William J Blot1,
  11. Xiao-Ou Shu1,
  12. Jirong Long1
  1. 1 Division of Epidemiology, Department of Medicine, Vanderbilt Epidemiology Center, Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, Tennessee, USA
  2. 2 Department of Pathology, NYU Langone Health, New York City, New York, USA
  3. 3 Rowland Institute, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
  4. 4 International Epidemiology Field Station, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Rockville, Maryland, USA
  5. 5 Department of Biological Sciences, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee, USA
  6. 6 Department of Biostatistics, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Jirong Long, Medicine, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, TN 37212, USA; jirong.long{at}


Background Cigarette smoking is a common risk factor for diseases and cancers. Oral microbiota is also associated with diseases and cancers. However, little is known about the impact of cigarette smoking on the oral microbiota, especially among ethnic minority populations.

Methods We investigated cigarette smoking in relationship with the oral microbiota in a large population of predominately low-income and African-American participants. Mouth rinse samples were collected from 1616 participants within the Southern Community Cohort Study, including 592 current-smokers, 477 former-smokers and 547 never-smokers. Oral microbiota was profiled by 16S ribosomal RNA gene deep sequencing.

Results Current-smokers showed a different overall microbial composition from former-smokers (p=6.62×10−7) and never-smokers (p=6.00×10−8). The two probiotic genera, Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus, were enriched among current-smokers when compared with never-smokers, with Bonferroni-corrected p values (PBonferroni ) of 1.28×10−4 and 5.89×10−7, respectively. The phylum Actinobacteria was also enriched in current-smokers when compared with never-smokers, with a median relative abundance of 12.35% versus 9.36%, respectively, and with a PBonferroni =9.11×10−11. In contrast, the phylum Proteobacteria was depleted in current smokers (PBonferroni =5.57×10−13), with the relative abundance being almost three times that of never-smokers (7.22%) when compared with that of current-smokers (2.47%). Multiple taxa within these two phyla showed differences in abundance/prevalence between current-smokers and never-smokers at PBonferroni <0.05. The differences in the overall microbial composition and abundance/prevalence of most taxa were observed among both African-Americans and European-Americans. Meanwhile, such differences were not observed between former-smokers and never-smokers.

Conclusion Smoking has strong impacts on oral microbial community, which was recovered after smoking cessation.

  • cigarette smoking
  • oral microbiota
  • African-American
  • European-American

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  • Contributors JL and X-OS conceived the study. YY performed statistical analyses. YY and JL wrote the manuscript with significant contributions from WZ, Q-YC, MJS, ZP, RB, SRB, ZL, WJB and X-OS. WZ, Q-YC, MJS, MDS and WJB contributed to the collection of the data and biological samples in the SCCS. All authors have reviewed and approved the final manuscript.

  • Funding Sample preparation was conducted at the Survey and Biospecimen Shared Resources, which is supported in part by the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center (P30 CA68485). The SCCS was supported by NIH grant R01CA92447 and U01CA202979. This project was also supported by a development fund from the Department of Medicine at Vanderbilt University and the NIH grants R01CA207466, R01CA204113 and U54CA163072.

  • Disclaimer The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement Data are available upon reasonable request.