Age and Periodontal Health—Immunological View

Jeffrey L. Ebersole, D. A. Dawson, P. Emecen Huja, S. Pandruvada, A. Basu, L. Nguyen, Y. Zhang, O. A. Gonzalez

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Purpose of the Review: Aging clearly impacts a wide array of systems, in particular the breadth of the immune system leading to immunosenescence, altered immunoactivation, and coincident inflammaging processes. The net result of these changes leads to increased susceptibility to infections, increased neoplastic occurrences, and elevated frequency of autoimmune diseases with aging. However, as the bacteria in the oral microbiome that contribute to the chronic infection of periodontitis is acquired earlier in life, the characteristics of the innate and adaptive immune systems to regulate these members of the autochthonous microbiota across the lifespan remains ill-defined. Recent Findings: Clear data demonstrate that both cells and molecules of the innate and adaptive immune response are adversely impacted by aging, including in the oral cavity, yielding a reasonable tenet that the increased periodontitis noted in aging populations is reflective of the age-associated immune dysregulation. Additionally, this facet of host-microbe interactions and disease needs to accommodate the population variation in disease onset and progression, which may also reflect an accumulation of environmental stressors and/or decreased protective nutrients that could function at the gene level (i.e., epigenetic) or translational level for production and secretion of immune system molecules. Summary: Finally, the majority of studies of aging and periodontitis have emphasized the increased prevalence/severity of disease with aging, all based upon chronological age. However, evolving areas of study focusing on “biological aging” to help account for population variation in disease expression may suggest that chronic periodontitis represents a co-morbidity that contributes to “gerovulnerability” within the population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)229-241
Number of pages13
JournalCurrent Oral Health Reports
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We want to thank M.J. Steffen, J. Stevens, and Dr. S.S. Kirakodu for expert technical support in developing biologic marker data for these types of studies. We also acknowledge the substantial contribution of the clinical personnel in the Delta Dental of Kentucky Clinical Research Center including L. Johnston, D. Dawson, D. Fogle, and H. Gallivan.

Funding Information:
This work was supported by USPHS grants RR020145, DE017793, GM110788, GM103538, and TR000117 from the National Institutes of Health and funding from the Center for Oral Health Research in the UK College of Dentistry, as well as the Office of Research Infrastructure Programs (ORIP) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) through Grant Number 5P40OD012217 to the Caribbean Primate Research Center. Infrastructure support was also provided, in part, by grants from the National Center for Research Resources G12RR003051 (National Center for Research Resources) and G12MD007600 (National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities) from the National Institutes of Health.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, Springer Nature Switzerland AG.


  • Aging
  • Environment
  • Immunology
  • Nutrition
  • Periodontitis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Oral Surgery
  • Immunology and Microbiology (miscellaneous)


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