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Feline Oral Health – Those Dirty Bacteria

Harris S, Croft J, et al. A pyrosequencing investigation of differences in the feline subgingival microbiota in health, gingivitis and mild periodontitis.  PLoS One. 2015 Nov 25;10(11):e0136986.  (Free Article)

Periodontitis is the most commonly diagnosed health problem in cats affect as many as 72-98% of cats.  Despite high prevalence of periodontal disease, causative agents such as information on the oral bacteria involved are not well understood.  Early feline oral bacterial studies relied on culture methods.  Culture based investigation analysis of subgingival plaque samples identified a greater number of anaerobic Gram-negative rods in those individuals with higher gingival index scores.   With increasing severity of periodontal disease, increasing numbers of black pigmented Bacteroides and Peptostreptococcus anaerobes were isolated.   These early studies are limited by the differential growth patterns in of bacteria in cultures and thus may not necessarily represent the true microflora distribution.

By taking advantage of new ultra-high throughput culture-independent methodology, researchers at WALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition elucidated differences in the oral microbiota in feline plaque in health, gingivitis and mild periodontitis.    Subgingival plaque bacteria were sampled from a total of 92 cats; 20 with healthy gingiva, 50 with gingivitis, and 22 with mild periodontitis.  The methodology was facilitated by use of a previously developed database of 16S rDNA taxonomy that represents 171 feline oral taxa. The resulting feline oral microbiome curated taxonomy and 16S rRNA gene reference set allowed precise definition of bacterial taxa and was used along with the canine oral microbiome reference set (282 canine oral taxa) to annotate bacterial species.  A total of 1,112,543 DNA sequences were assigned to 9,638 operational taxonomic units.

Porphyromonas was the most abundant genus in all gingival health categories, particularly in health along with Moraxella and Fusobacteria. The Peptostreptococcaceae were the most abundant family in gingivitis and mild periodontitis.  Bacteria identified share a lot in common with bacteria found in canine plaque, but differ significantly from those in the human oral microbiome.  This is not too surprising since canines and felines have similar diets and oral parameters such as a more alkaline salivary pH compared to humans.  In conclusion, interventions targeted at human pathogenic species will not be effective for use in cats, but cats and dogs potentially share similar bacterial targets for intervention. [GO]

See also:
Dewhirst FE, Klein EA, Bennet ML, et al. The feline oral microbiome: A provisional 16S rRNA gene based taxonomy with the full-based taxonomy with full-length reference sequences. Vet Microb. 2015 Feb 25; 175(2-4):294-303.

Sturgeion A, Pinder SL, costa MC, Weese IS. Characterization of the oral microbiota of healthy cats using next-generation sequencing. Vet J. 2014 Aug;201(3):223-229.