As the threat of antimicrobial resistance to medication increases, researchers have been investigating the growing role of resistance genes in the human gut microbiome. Now, researchers at King’s College London are exploring the oral resistome, or the antimicrobial resistance potential of the mouth.
As the mouth is the first point of entry for food and many medications, it has the potential to influence the spread of antimicrobial resistance in the human microbiome, the researchers said. Antimicrobial resistance arises when the microbe acquires genes that attempt to avoid or destroy the drugs.
“Given what we are beginning to discover about the sheer variety of microbial species in the human microbiome, if we are to stand any hope of getting to grips with the spread and persistence of antimicrobial resistance, we need to expand human resistome studies to sample other body areas,” said Dr. David Moyes, lecturer in host-mircobiome interactions.
The researchers accessed saliva, dental plaque, and other oral data from 788 oral cavities and analyzed them using the Comprehensive Antibiotic Resistance Database (CARD), in addition to paired stool metagenomes. They included data from several different regions in the study, including Asian, Pacific, European, and American locations.
According to the researchers, there were unique resistome profiles in the mouth compared to the gut. And while there was less diversity of antimicrobial resistance genes in the mouth, those genes present were more pervasive across the populations studied.
“If body sites have different resistomes, can a gut resistome represent the entirety of the human resistome? We must continue analysis of the microbiomes at other body sites to realize the huge potential for unlocking insights from open-source datasets of previously sampled cohorts,” said Moyes. “If we look hard enough, the answers could be right under our noses.”
The study, “Abundance and Diversity of Resistomes Differ Between Healthy Human Oral Cavities and Gut,” was published by Nature Communications.