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J Dent Res. 1999 Apr;78(4):850-6.

Quantification of bacteria in oral samples by competitive polymerase chain reaction.

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Department of Operative Dentistry and Periodontology, University of Leipzig, Germany.


Information about the total amount of bacteria in oral samples contributes to assessment of an individual's risk of contracting dental caries or developing periodontitis and the prediction of that individual's clinical course. Since existing techniques are often time-consuming and expensive, it seemed attractive to look for alternative methods for the quantification of eubacteria. With their high specificity and sensitivity, polymerase chain-reaction (PCR) techniques have the potential of supplying fast and reliable results. We developed a method of competitive PCR for the quantification of eubacteria. We designed forward and reverse PCR primers which bind to highly conserved sequences of the bacterial 16S rRNA gene. A homologous competitor was synthesized with Escherichia coli 16S rDNA as a template, with the reverse primer and a hybrid primer which binds 67 bases downstream to the forward primer and carries the forward primer sequence at its 5' end. Specificity controls with 30 different bacterial species, 5 Archaea, 3 fungi, human astrocytoma cells, and rat hepatoblastoma cells were carried out. Results were positive for all eubacteria and negative for all other cells tested. Calibration curves were obtained by co-amplification of known amounts of E. coli cells in the presence of the homologous competitor. The developed method was successfully applied to assessment of the accumulation of bacteria during an oral hygiene cessation experiment. The competitive PCR method proved to be a reliable and fast method for the quantification of bacterial DNA and cultured eubacteria, as well as of bacteria in biological samples. It may find further applications not only in periodontology and cariology but also in other fields of medical microbiology.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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