MDPI, Nutrients, 3(13), p. 924, 2021
Patients suffering from periodontitis are at a higher risk of developing cognitive dysfunction. However, the mediation effect of an inflammatory diet and serum vitamin D levels in this link is unclear. In total, 2062 participants aged 60 years or older with complete periodontal diagnosis and cognitive tests from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2011–2012 and 2013–2014 were enrolled. The Consortium to Establish a Registry for Alzheimer’s disease (CERAD) word learning subtest (WLT) and CERAD delayed recall test (DRT), the animal fluency test (AFT) and the digit symbol substitution test (DSST) was used. Dietary inflammatory index (DII) was computed via nutrition datasets. Mediation analysis tested the effects of DII and vitamin D levels in the association of mean probing depth (PD) and attachment loss (AL) in all four cognitive tests. Periodontitis patients obtained worse cognitive test scores than periodontally healthy individuals. DII was negatively associated with CERAD-WLT, CERAD-DRT, AFT and DSST, and was estimated to mediate between 9.2% and 36.4% of the total association between periodontitis with cognitive dysfunction (p < 0.05). Vitamin D showed a weak association between CERAD-DRT, AFT and DSST and was estimated to between 8.1% and 73.2% of the association between periodontitis and cognitive dysfunction (p < 0.05). The association between periodontitis and impaired cognitive function seems to be mediated both by a proinflammatory dietary load and vitamin D deficiency. Future studies should further explore these mediators in the periodontitis-cognitive decline link.