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Microb Ecol. 2015 Feb;69(2):422-33. doi: 10.1007/s00248-014-0535-x. Epub 2014 Nov 30.

Stability and resilience of oral microcosms toward acidification and Candida outgrowth by arginine supplementation.

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Department of Preventive Dentistry, Academic Centre for Dentistry Amsterdam, University of Amsterdam, Gustav Mahlerlaan 3004, 1081 LA, Amsterdam, The Netherlands,


Dysbiosis induced by low pH in the oral ecosystem can lead to caries, a prevalent bacterial disease in humans. The amino acid arginine is one of the pH-elevating agents in the oral cavity. To obtain insights into the effect of arginine on oral microbial ecology, a multi-plaque "artificial mouth" (MAM) biofilm model was inoculated with saliva from a healthy volunteer and microcosms were grown for 4 weeks with 1.6 % (w/v) arginine supplement (Arginine) or without (Control), samples were taken at several time-points. A cariogenic environment was mimicked by sucrose pulsing. The bacterial composition was determined by 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing, the presence and amount of Candida and arginine deiminase system genes arcA and sagP by qPCR. Additionally, ammonium and short-chain fatty acid concentrations were determined. The Arginine microcosms were dominated by Streptococcus, Veillonella, and Neisseria and remained stable in time, while the composition of the Control microcosms diverged significantly in time, partially due to the presence of Megasphaera. The percentage of Candida increased 100-fold in the Control microcosms compared to the Arginine microcosms. The pH-raising effect of arginine was confirmed by the pH and ammonium results. The abundances of sagP and arcA were highest in the Arginine microcosms, while the concentration of butyrate was higher in the Control microcosms. We demonstrate that supplementation with arginine serves a health-promoting function; it enhances microcosm resilience toward acidification and suppresses outgrowth of the opportunistic pathogen Candida. Arginine facilitates stability of oral microbial communities and prevents them from becoming cariogenic.

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