Tongue microbiota are a dominant source of oral microbial populations that are ingested with saliva, and therefore careful attention is required for the maintenance of health of elderly adults, who are susceptible to aspiration of oral contents. This study aimed to investigate the variation in tongue microbiota among community-dwelling elderly adults. Following a dental examination, tongue coating was collected from a 15-mm-diameter circular area at the center of the tongue dorsum of 506 elderly adults aged 70 to 80 years inhabiting the town of Hisayama, Japan. The microbial composition and density were determined by a 16S rRNA gene sequencing approach using a next-generation sequencer and quantitative PCR analysis, respectively. Co-occurrence network analysis identified two cohabiting groups of predominant commensals, one of which was primarily composed of Prevotella histicola, Veillonella atypica, Streptococcus salivarius, and Streptococcus parasanguinis; these organisms have been previously associated with an increased risk of mortality due to pneumonia in the frail elderly. This bacterial group was more predominant in the elderly with fewer teeth, a higher plaque index, and more dental caries experience, whereas the total bacterial density was independent of these traits. A higher density of fungi was also observed in the elderly with these traits, as well as in individuals who wore dentures. These results suggest that elderly adults with poorer oral health swallow a more dysbiotic microbiota formed on the tongue.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology