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Oral Microbiol Immunol. 2005 Dec;20(6):354-61.

Oral lactobacilli in chronic periodontitis and periodontal health: species composition and antimicrobial activity.

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Department of Stomatology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Tartu, Tartu, Estonia.



Lactobacilli are known to play an important role in the maintenance of health by stimulating natural immunity and contributing to the balance of microflora. However, their role in chronic periodontitis is unclear. We aimed to identify oral lactobacilli in chronic periodontitis and periodontally healthy subjects, and to determine their antimicrobial activity against putative oral pathogens.


A total of 238 Lactobacillus isolates from the saliva and subgingival sites of 20 chronic periodontitis and 15 healthy subjects were collected. In all, 115 strains were identified using rapid amplified ribosomal DNA restriction analysis. Antimicrobial activity against Streptococcus mutans, Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans, Porphyromonas gingivalis, and Prevotella intermedia was assessed.


Lactobacilli belonging to 10 species were identified. The most prevalent strains in healthy persons were Lactobacillus gasseri and Lactobacillus fermentum and in chronic periodontitis patients, Lactobacillus plantarum. Obligately homofermentatives, particularly L. gasseri, were less prevalent in chronic periodontitis patients compared with healthy subjects (8% vs. 64% for L. gasseri, P < 0.01). Sixty-nine percent of tested lactobacilli inhibited S. mutans, 88% A. actinomycetemcomitans, 82% P. gingivalis and 65% P. intermedia. The strongest antimicrobial activity was associated with Lactobacillus paracasei, L. plantarum, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, and Lactobacillus salivarius. The strains from periodontally healthy patients showed a lower antimicrobial activity against S. mutans than the strains from chronic periodontitis patients.


The composition of oral lactoflora in chronic periodontitis and healthy subjects differs, with a higher prevalence of homofermentative lactobacilli, particularly L. gasseri, in the latter group. Both homo- and heterofermentative oral lactobacilli suppress the growth of periodontal pathogens, but the antimicrobial properties are strain, species and origin specific.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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