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Adhesion of Streptococcus sanguinis to glass surfaces measured by isothermal microcalorimetry (IMC).

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Institute of Preventive Dentistry and Oral Microbiology, Dental School, University of Basel, Hebelstrasse 3, 4056 Basel, Switzerland.


Bacterial adhesion is the first step in the development of the oral biofilm, called dental plaque. Plaque is the cause of caries, periodontal diseases, and periimplantitis. Investigations of dental plaque, including bacterial adhesion, employ various in vivo and in vitro models using microscopic methods. Microcalorimetry offers another direct approach. The model organism Streptococcus sanguinis is one of the first colonizers adhering to the saliva-coated human tooth surfaces or dental materials within minutes after tooth cleaning. TAM III thermostats, equipped with microcalorimeters, were used for isothermal microcalorimetric (IMC) measurements of heat production as a function of time, expressed by power-time (p-t) curves. Continuous measurements of heat production of growing S. sanguinis cells showed their overall metabolic activity and were highly reproducible. For the adhesion experiments the bacteria were allowed to adhere to different amounts of glass beads. Growing S. sanguinis cells produced a characteristic p-t curve with a maximum of 500 microW at 4.5 h when reaching 10(9) cells ml(-1). The same number of stationary S. sanguinis cells, suspended in PBS produced only approximately 30 microW at 0.5 h due to adhesion. But the amount of heat increased with available glass surface area, indicating that a portion of the heat of adhesion was measured. Similar results were obtained with stationary S. sanguinis cells suspended in human saliva. This study shows that microcalorimetric evaluation of initial bacterial adhesion is indeed possible and may become a rapid, reproducible screening method to study adhesion of different bacteria to different dental materials or to modified surfaces.

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