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Oral Microbiol Immunol. 2006 Oct;21(5):283-8.

Resistance to acidic and alkaline environments in the endodontic pathogen Enterococcus faecalis.

Author information

1
Division of Oral Ecology and Biochemistry, Department of Oral Biology, Tohoku University Graduate School of Dentistry, Sendai, Japan.

Abstract

BACKGROUND/AIMS:

This study aimed to investigate the biochemical mechanisms employed by the endodontic pathogen Enterococcus faecalis to confer acid- and alkali-resistance and to compare these with the mechanisms of representative oral streptococci.

METHODS:

E. faecalis JCM8728, Streptococcus mutans NCTC10449 and Streptococcus sanguinis ATCC10556 were used to assess both acid- and alkali-resistance by examining: (i) growth in complex media; (ii) stability of intracellular pH (pH(in)); (iii) cell durability to leakage of preloaded BCECF (2',7'-bis-(2-carboxyethyl)-5,6-carboxy-fluorescein); and (iv) cell permeability to SYTOX-Green.

RESULTS:

Growth was initiated by E. faecalis at pH 4.0-11.0, by S. mutans at pH 4.0-9.0 and by S. sanguinis at pH 5.0-9.0. The pH(in) was similar to the extracellular pH in S. mutans and S. sanguinis at pH 5-10, while the pH(in) of E. faecalis was maintained at approximately 7.5-8.5 when extracellular pH was 7.5-10 and was maintained at levels equivalent to the extracellular pH when pH < 7.5. Cell membranes of E. faecalis were resistant to BCECF leakage when extracellular pH was 2.5-12 and to SYTOX-Green permeability at pH 4-10. The cell membrane durability to extracellular pH in E. faecalis was higher than that observed in the Streptococcus strains.

CONCLUSION:

Compared to S. mutans, E. faecalis was found to be equally resistant to acid and more resistant to alkalis. The results suggest that pH-resistance in E. faecalis is attributed to membrane durability against acid and alkali, in addition to cell membrane-bound proton-transport systems. These characteristics may account for why E. faecalis is frequently isolated from acidic caries lesions and from persistently infected root canals where calcium hydroxide medication is ineffective.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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