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J Dent Res. 1990 Feb;69 Spec No:660-7; discussion 682-3.

Biochemical effects of fluoride on oral bacteria.

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Department of Oral Biology, Faculty of Dentistry, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada.


Fluoride inhibition of carbohydrate metabolism by the acidogenic plaque microflora is well-established, although it has not always been appreciated that oral bacteria vary considerably in their susceptibility to fluoride. Early studies demonstrated that the F-induced reduction in acid production was due, in part, to the inhibition of the glycolytic enzyme, enolase, which converts 2-P-glycerate to P-enolpyruvate. The decreased output of PEP in the presence of F, in turn, results in the inhibition of sugar transport via the PEP phosphotransferase system (PTS). Bacterial accumulation of fluoride involves the transport of HF, a process requiring a transmembrane pH difference or pH gradient, which is generated only by metabolically active cells. The uptake of HF into the more alkaline cytoplasm results in the dissociation of HF to H+ and F- and, if allowed to continue, the accumulation of protons acidifies the cytoplasm, causing a reduction in both the proton gradient and enzyme activity. Current information indicates that in addition to enolase, F- also inhibits the membrane-bound, proton-pumping H+/ATPase, which is involved in the generation of proton gradients through the efflux of protons from the cell at the expense of ATP. Thus, fluoride has the dual action of dissipating proton gradients and preventing their generation through its action on H+/ATPase. The collapse of transmembrane proton gradient, in turn, reduces the ability of cells to transport solutes via mechanisms involving proton motive force. In spite of these known effects on the bacterial cell, there is no general agreement that the anti-microbial effects of F contribute to the anti-caries effect of fluoride.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS).

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