Effective immunity to dental caries: Enhancement of salivary anti-Streptococcus mutans antibody responses with oral adjuvants

Academic Article


  • In the present study, we compared the ability of the soluble adjuvants concanavalin A (ConA), muramyl dipeptide (MDP), and peptidoglycan (PG) to enhance immune responses to orally administered particulate antigens of Streptococcus mutans 6715 in gnotobiotic rats. The isotype and levels of antibody in saliva and in serum from experimental rats were determined by an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay using S. mutans whole cells (WC) as the coating antigen. The specificities of salivary and serum immunuglobulin A (IgA) antibodies to particulate S. mutans antigens, lipoteichoic acid, S. mutans serotype g carbohydrate, and dextran were also determined. When 50 μg of ConA was used as the oral adjuvant with S. mutans 6715 WC immunogen, a slight enhancement of immune responses was obtained. A higher dose of ConA suppressed humoral responses to the immunogen. Enhanced immune responses, especially of the IgA isotype in both serum and saliva were induced in gnotobiotic rats given MDP and either S. mutans 6715 WC or purified cell walls (CW) by gastric intubation. Elevated IgA antibody levels to CW, lipoteichoic acid, and carbohydrate were observed in rats given S. mutans WC and MDP by gastric intubation, whereas oral immunization with S. mutans CW and MDP resulted in higher antibody levels to CW and carbohydrate and lower levels to lipoteichoic acid when compared with the antibody levels in rats given antigen alone. Rats orally immunized with either S. mutans WC or CW and MDP and challenged with virulent S. mutans 6715 exhibited significantly (P ≤ 0.05) lower plaque scores, numbers of viable S. mutans in plaque, and caries scores than did rats immunized with antigen alone or in infected-only controls. In another series of experiments, a PG fraction derived from S. mutans 6715 CW was assessed for adjuvant properties. The oral administration of PG and either S. mutans WC or CW induced good salivary and serum IgA antibody responses. The specificity of the antibodies was similar to that obtained in rats given antigen and MDP. Rats receiving either S. mutans WC or CW and PG and challenged with virulent S. mutans 6715 had lower plaque scores, fewer numbers of viable S. mutans in plaque, and lower caries activity than did infected rats receiving S. mutans WC or CW immunogen alone. These results provide evidence that soluble adjuvants derived from the gram-positive bacterial CW, e.g., MDP and PG, are effective oral adjuvants and augment IgA immune responses to particulate S. mutans antigens which are protective against the mucosally associated disease, dental caries.
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    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Morisaki I; Michalek SM; Harmon CC; Torii M; Hamada S; Mcghee JR
  • Start Page

  • 577
  • End Page

  • 591
  • Volume

  • 40
  • Issue

  • 2