In a recent study funded by the Cornell Feline Health Center, Cornell researchers explored the subgingival (under the gum) microbiome associated with periodontal disease. The researchers used shotgun metagenomics—a technique that allows the detection of smaller microbial communities—to investigate bacteria associated with both periodontal health and spontaneous periodontal disease in cats. It is believed they are the first to use this method. The study compared periodontally healthy cats and cats with naturally occurring chronic periodontitis, aggressive periodontitis, and feline chronic gingivostomatitis.
The researchers identified a higher abundance of the ATP synthase gene in diseased cats and a higher abundance of the nitrate reductase gene in healthy cats, a finding similar to that in human studies. Although more study is needed, these results provide preliminary functional insights of the microbial communities associated with periodontitis in domestic cats and suggest that ATP-synthase and nitrate-nitrite-NO pathways may represent potential targets for treatment.