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Arch Oral Biol. 2001 Jun;46(6):477-86.

A comparison of human dental plaque microcosm biofilms grown in an undefined medium and a chemically defined artificial saliva.

Author information

Dental Research Group, Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine, Wellington School of Medicine, University of Otago, PO Box 7343, Wellington South, New Zealand.

Erratum in

  • Arch Oral Biol 2001 Aug;46(8):779. Sissions CH [corrected to Sissons C].


The growth and pathogenic properties of dental plaque result from interactions between the microbiota and the oral environment and have been studied in laboratory experimental systems ranging from single or a few species (such as in chemostats) to dental plaque microcosms. Microcosm plaque is an in vitro version of natural plaque and has been explored as a microflora model because it is sited a more manipulable and controllable environment. It is obtained as microcosm biofilms in an 'artificial mouth' plaque culture system by culturing the bacteria in natural plaque-enriched saliva (i.e. salivary bacteria where a whole-saliva donor has abstained from oral hygiene for 24 h to increase the plaque bacteria in the saliva). The aim here was to examine whether a new, chemically defined analogue of saliva (defined medium mucin, DMM) could substitute for a previously used, chemically undefined medium (basal medium mucin, BMM) as an analogue of saliva for large-scale biofilm culturing. DMM contains various ions, mucin, amino acids, vitamins and growth factors at concentrations generally similar to those in saliva, whereas BMM contains yeast extract, peptones and mucin. To model the nutrient functions of salivary proteins, amino acids equivalent to 5 g/l casein were also included in DMM. In earlier studies, BMM-grown plaques were similar to natural plaques in structure, composition, growth rate and pH response to substrates. Their doubling-time patterns over a 20-day period were similar, except that the DMM-grown plaques showed biphasic growth patterns that were more pronounced than with BMM. Variation in enzyme profiles between BMM- and DMM-grown plaque, measured using the API-ZYM technique, provided evidence of nutritional effects on plaque composition. It was concluded that realistic growth rates and patterns are generated in microcosm plaque biofilms by supplying both DMM and BMM. However, the use of DMM enables specific modifications to be made to nutrient conditions during large-scale culture in our 'artificial mouth' biofilm system.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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