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Oral Microbiol Immunol. 2008 Apr;23(2):139-47. doi: 10.1111/j.1399-302X.2007.00402.x.

Characterization of oral lactobacilli as potential probiotics for oral health.

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



Intestinal lactobacilli have been successfully used as probiotics to treat gastrointestinal disorders, but only limited data are available for the probiotic properties of oral lactobacilli to combat oral diseases. We aimed to characterize oral lactobacilli for their potential probiotic properties according to the international guidelines for the evaluation of probiotics, and to select potential probiotic strains for oral health.


The study included 67 salivary and subgingival lactobacilli of 10 species, isolated from healthy humans. All strains were identified using amplified ribosomal DNA restriction analysis, tested for antimicrobial activity against oral pathogens, tolerance of low pH and bile content. Thereafter, the lysozyme tolerance and antibiotic susceptibility of 22 potential probiotic strains were assessed.


The majority of strains suppressed the growth of Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans, Porphyromonas gingivalis, Prevotella intermedia, and Streptococcus mutans, but none inhibited Candida albicans. The lowest pH tolerated by lactobacilli following 4 h of incubation was pH 2.5, but none of the strains grew at this pH. All strains tolerated a high concentration of lysozyme (10 mg/ml) and half of the strains tolerated a high concentration of human bile [5% volume/volume (V/V)]. Four Lactobacillus plantarum and two Lactobacillus oris strains expressed resistance to tetracycline and/or doxycycline.


Strains of L. plantarum, Lactobacillus paracasei, Lactobacillus salivarius, and Lactobacillus rhamnosus expressed both high antimicrobial activity and high tolerance of environmental stress. The absence of transferable antibiotic-resistance genes in L. plantarum strains remains to be confirmed. These results suggest a potential for oral lactobacilli to be used as probiotics for oral health.

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