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Oral Microbiol Immunol. 2004 Feb;19(1):31-8.

Physiologic actions of zinc related to inhibition of acid and alkali production by oral streptococci in suspensions and biofilms.

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Department of Microbiology & Immunology and Center for Oral Biology, University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, NY 14642-8672, USA.


Zinc is a known inhibitor of acid production by mutans streptococci. Our primary objective was to extend current knowledge of the physiologic bases for this inhibition and also for zinc inhibition of alkali production by Streptococcus rattus FA-1 and Streptococcus salivarius ATCC 13419. Zinc at concentrations as low as 0.01-0.1 mm not only inhibited acid production by cells of Streptococcus mutans GS-5 in suspensions or in biofilms but also sensitized glycolysis by intact cells to acidification. Zinc reversibly inhibited the F-ATPase of permeabilized cells of S. mutans with a 50% inhibitory concentration of about 1 mm for cells in suspensions. Zinc reversibly inhibited the phosphoenolpyruvate: sugar phosphotransferase system with 50% inhibition at about 0.3 mm ZnSO4, or about half that concentration when the zinc-citrate chelate was used. The reversibility of these inhibitory actions of zinc correlates with findings that it is mainly bacteriostatic rather than bactericidal. Zinc inhibited alkali production from arginine or urea and was a potent enzyme inhibitor for arginine deiminase of S. rattus FA-1 and for urease of S. salivarius. In addition, zinc citrate at high levels of 10-20 mm was weakly bactericidal.

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