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Am J Chin Med. 2014;42(1):157-71. doi: 10.1142/S0192415X14500116.

Withania somnifera attenuates acid production, acid tolerance and extra-cellular polysaccharide formation of Streptococcus mutans biofilms.

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Department of Preventive Dentistry, Chonbuk National University, Jeonju 561-756, Republic of Korea.


Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha) is a plant of the Solanaceae family. It has been widely used as a remedy for a variety of ailments in India and Nepal. The plant has also been used as a controlling agent for dental diseases. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the activity of the methanol extract of W. somnifera against the physiological ability of cariogenic biofilms and to identify the components of the extract. To determine the activity of the extract, assays for sucrose-dependent bacterial adherence, glycolytic acid production, acid tolerance, and extracellular polysaccharide formation were performed using Streptococcus mutans biofilms. The viability change of S. mutans biofilms cells was also determined. A phytochemical analysis of the extract was performed using TLC and LC/MS/MS. The extract showed inhibitory effects on sucrose-dependent bacterial adherence (≥ 100 μg/ml), glycolytic acid production (≥ 300 μg/ml), acid tolerance (≥ 300 μg/ml), and extracellular polysaccharide formation (≥ 300 μg/ml) of S. mutans biofilms. However, the extract did not alter the viability of S. mutans biofilms cells in all concentrations tested. Based on the phytochemical analysis, the activity of the extract may be related to the presence of alkaloids, anthrones, coumarines, anthraquinones, terpenoids, flavonoids, and steroid lactones (withanolide A, withaferin A, withanolide B, withanoside IV, and 12-deoxy withastramonolide). These data indicate that W. somnifera may be a potential agent for restraining the physiological ability of cariogenic biofilms.

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