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Antimicrob Agents Chemother. Aug 1995; 39(8): 1820–1823.
PMCID: PMC162832

Effect of xylitol on growth of nasopharyngeal bacteria in vitro.


Xylitol is known to reduce caries by inhibiting the growth of Streptococcus mutans. We hypothesized that xylitol could also affect the growth of other nasopharyngeal bacterial flora, which could be important when considering respiratory infections caused by these bacteria. We studied this in vitro by adding xylitol to the medium and observed that 1 and 5% xylitol reduced markedly the growth of alpha-hemolytic streptococci, including S. pneumoniae. It reduced slightly the growth of beta-hemolytic streptococci but not that of Haemophilus influenzae or Moraxella catarrhalis. The inhibitory growth pattern was similar to that previously seen with S. mutans, which may indicate a similarity in the enzymatic processing of five-carbon sugars such as xylitol. This sugar alcohol is a widely used sweetener, and the concentrations used in our experiments are easily achieved in the oral cavity. If xylitol reduces the growth of S. pneumoniae in the nasopharynx, it could also reduce the carriage of this pathogen and thus have clinical significance in the prevention of pneumococcal diseases.

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Selected References

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