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The dental calculus metabolome in modern and historic samples.

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Velsko, Irina M 
Overmyer, Katherine A 
Speller, Camilla 
Klaus, Lauren 
Collins, Matthew J 


INTRODUCTION: Dental calculus is a mineralized microbial dental plaque biofilm that forms throughout life by precipitation of salivary calcium salts. Successive cycles of dental plaque growth and calcification make it an unusually well-preserved, long-term record of host-microbial interaction in the archaeological record. Recent studies have confirmed the survival of authentic ancient DNA and proteins within historic and prehistoric dental calculus, making it a promising substrate for investigating oral microbiome evolution via direct measurement and comparison of modern and ancient specimens. OBJECTIVE: We present the first comprehensive characterization of the human dental calculus metabolome using a multi-platform approach. METHODS: Ultra performance liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (UPLC-MS/MS) quantified 285 metabolites in modern and historic (200 years old) dental calculus, including metabolites of drug and dietary origin. A subset of historic samples was additionally analyzed by high-resolution gas chromatography-MS (GC-MS) and UPLC-MS/MS for further characterization of metabolites and lipids. Metabolite profiles of modern and historic calculus were compared to identify patterns of persistence and loss. RESULTS: Dipeptides, free amino acids, free nucleotides, and carbohydrates substantially decrease in abundance and ubiquity in archaeological samples, with some exceptions. Lipids generally persist, and saturated and mono-unsaturated medium and long chain fatty acids appear to be well-preserved, while metabolic derivatives related to oxidation and chemical degradation are found at higher levels in archaeological dental calculus than fresh samples. CONCLUSIONS: The results of this study indicate that certain metabolite classes have higher potential for recovery over long time scales and may serve as appropriate targets for oral microbiome evolutionary studies.



Archaeology, Dental plaque, GC–MS, Metabolomics, Oral microbiome, UPLC–MS/MS

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Springer Science and Business Media LLC