The oral microbiome, nitric oxide and exercise performance

Nathan S. Bryan, Mia C. Burleigh, Chris Easton*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
32 Downloads (Pure)


The human microbiome comprises ~1013–1014 microbial cells which form a symbiotic relationship with the host and play a critical role in the regulation of human metabolism. In the oral cavity, several species of bacteria are capable of reducing nitrate to nitrite; a key precursor of the signaling molecule nitric oxide. Nitric oxide has myriad physiological functions, which include the maintenance of cardiovascular homeostasis and the regulation of acute and chronic responses to exercise. This article provides a brief narrative review of the research that has explored how diversity and plasticity of the oral microbiome influences nitric oxide bioavailability and related physiological outcomes. There is unequivocal evidence that dysbiosis (e.g. through disease) or disruption (e.g. by use of antiseptic mouthwash or antibiotics) of the oral microbiota will suppress nitric oxide production via the nitrate-nitrite-nitric oxide pathway and negatively impact blood pressure. Conversely, there is preliminary evidence to suggest that proliferation of nitrate-reducing bacteria via the diet or targeted probiotics can augment nitric oxide production and improve markers of oral health. Despite this, it is yet to be established whether purposefully altering the oral microbiome can have a meaningful impact on exercise performance. Future research should determine whether alterations to the composition and metabolic activity of bacteria in the mouth influence the acute responses to exercise and the physiological adaptations to exercise training.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-30
Number of pages8
JournalNitric Oxide
Early online date28 May 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2022


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