Gingival Transcriptome of Innate Antimicrobial Factors and the Oral Microbiome With Aging and Periodontitis

Jeffrey L. Ebersole, Sreenatha Kirakodu, Linh Nguyen, Octavio A. Gonzalez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The epithelial barrier at mucosal sites comprises an important mechanical protective feature of innate immunity, and is intimately involved in communicating signals of infection/tissue damage to inflammatory and immune cells in these local environments. A wide array of antimicrobial factors (AMF) exist at mucosal sites and in secretions that contribute to this innate immunity. A non-human primate model of ligature-induced periodontitis was used to explore characteristics of the antimicrobial factor transcriptome (n = 114 genes) of gingival biopsies in health, initiation and progression of periodontal lesions, and in samples with clinical resolution. Age effects and relationship of AMF to the dominant members of the oral microbiome were also evaluated. AMF could be stratified into 4 groups with high (n = 22), intermediate (n = 29), low (n = 18) and very low (n = 45) expression in healthy adult tissues. A subset of AMF were altered in healthy young, adolescent and aged samples compared with adults (e.g., APP, CCL28, DEFB113, DEFB126, FLG2, PRH1) and were affected across multiple age groups. With disease, a greater number of the AMF genes were affected in the adult and aged samples with skewing toward decreased expression, for example WDC12, PGLYRP3, FLG2, DEFB128, and DEF4A/B, with multiple age groups. Few of the AMF genes showed a >2-fold increase with disease in any age group. Selected AMF exhibited significant positive correlations across the array of AMF that varied in health and disease. In contrast, a rather limited number of the AMF significantly correlated with members of the microbiome; most prominent in healthy samples. These correlated microbes were different in younger and older samples and differed in health, disease and resolution samples. The findings supported effects of age on the expression of AMF genes in healthy gingival tissues showing a relationship to members of the oral microbiome. Furthermore, a dynamic expression of AMF genes was related to the disease process and showed similarities across the age groups, except for low/very low expressed genes that were unaffected in young samples. Targeted assessment of AMF members from this large array may provide insight into differences in disease risk and biomolecules that provide some discernment of early transition to disease.

Original languageEnglish
Article number817249
JournalFrontiers in Oral Health
StatePublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by National Institute of Health grant P20GM103538.

Funding Information:
We express our gratitude to the Caribbean Primate Research Center (CPRC), supported by grant P40RR03640, specifically Drs. Janis Gonzalez Martinez, Luis Orraca, and Armando Burgos, and the Center for Oral Health Research in the College of Dentistry at the University of Kentucky. We also thank the Microarray Core of University Kentucky for their invaluable technical assistance, and Dr. A. Stromberg for initial normalization of the microarray data. We also thank the Genomic Core Laboratory of University Kentucky for their invaluable technical and data management assistance.

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2022 Ebersole, Kirakodu, Nguyen and Gonzalez.


  • aging
  • antimicrobial factors
  • microbiome
  • non-human primate
  • periodontitis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dentistry (miscellaneous)
  • Oral Surgery
  • Periodontics


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