Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Bacterium, fungus team up to cause virulent tooth decay in toddlers

Date:
March 12, 2014
Source:
American Society for Microbiology
Summary:
Early childhood caries, a highly aggressive and painful form of tooth decay that frequently occurs in preschool children, especially from backgrounds of poverty, may result from a nefarious partnership between a bacterium and a fungus, according to new research. The resulting tooth decay can be so severe that treatment frequently requires surgery -- in the operating room.

This figure (a cross section of the biofilm) depicts S. mutans microcolonies (in green) together with C. albicans (in blue) all surrounded and enmeshed in extracellular polysaccharides matrix (in red).
Credit: Hyun (Michel) Koo, University of Pennsylvania

Early childhood caries, a highly aggressive and painful form of tooth decay that frequently occurs in preschool children, especially from backgrounds of poverty, may result from a nefarious partnership between a bacterium and a fungus, according to a paper published ahead of print in the journal Infection and Immunity.

Related Articles


The resulting tooth decay can be so severe that treatment frequently requires surgery -- in the operating room, says corresponding author Hyun (Michel) Koo of the University of Pennsylvania.

"Our data will certainly open the way to test agents to prevent this disease, and even more intriguing, the possibility of preventing children from acquiring this infection," says Koo.

In the study the investigators showed that infection by S. mutans and C. albicans together doubled the number of cavities, and boosted their severity several-fold in rats.

Koo, of U. Penn's School of Dental Medicine, has spent 15 years studying how microbes construct the biofilms, also known as plaque, that have plagued teeth since H. sapiens invented agriculture, bringing large quantities of starch into the diet. (Caries are common in Neolithic skeletons, but virtually absent from our Paleolithic ancestors.)

The bacterium Streptococcus mutans has long been assumed to be the sole microbial culprit, but Koo and collaborators -- as well as other investigators -- noticed that the fungus, Candida albicans, was almost always present in plaque from cases of early childhood caries. S. mutans sticks to the surfaces of teeth by converting sugars to a sticky glue-like material called extracellular polysaccharide (EPS.) In the mouth, Candida adheres mainly to cheek and tongue, but had rarely been seen in dental plaque.

"However, we and others noticed that Candida was very frequently observed in plaque from patients who have early childhood caries," says Koo. "We were puzzled! Candida usually does not associate with S. mutans, nor does it colonize teeth very effectively."

The investigators discovered that the "exoenzyme" which S. mutans uses to react with sugar to produce EPS, also enables Candida to produce a glue-like polymer in the presence of sugar, allowing it to adhere to teeth, and to bind S. mutans, two abilities it otherwise lacks. Under these circumstances, the fungus now contributes the bulk of the plaque.

"The combination of the two organisms led to a greatly enhanced production of the glue-like polymer, drastically boosting the ability of the bacterium and the fungus to colonize the teeth, increasing the bulk of the biofilms and the density of the infection," says Koo. All that led to greatly elevated accumulation next to the teeth of the acid that dissolves enamel, leading to cavity formation.

"This represents a truly unique physical interaction where a bacterially-produced product attaches to and functions on the surface of an organism from another kingdom, converting this normally innocuous (with respect to teeth) fungus into a fierce stimulator of cariogenic biofilm formation," says Koo. That observation, he says, supports his hypothesis that early childhood caries in toddlers results from infection by both organisms, with frequent exposure to sucrose.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Society for Microbiology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. M. L. Falsetta, M. I. Klein, P. M. Colonne, K. Scott-Anne, S. Gregoire, C.-H. Pai, M. Gonzalez, G. Watson, D. J. Krysan, W. H. Bowen, H. Koo. Symbiotic relationship between Streptococcus mutans and Candida albicans synergizes the virulence of plaque-biofilms in vivo. Infection and Immunity, 2014; DOI: 10.1128/IAI.00087-14

Cite This Page:

American Society for Microbiology. "Bacterium, fungus team up to cause virulent tooth decay in toddlers." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 March 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140312132625.htm>.
American Society for Microbiology. (2014, March 12). Bacterium, fungus team up to cause virulent tooth decay in toddlers. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 18, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140312132625.htm
American Society for Microbiology. "Bacterium, fungus team up to cause virulent tooth decay in toddlers." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140312132625.htm (accessed April 18, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Our Love Of Puppy Dog Eyes Explained By Science

Our Love Of Puppy Dog Eyes Explained By Science

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2015) Researchers found a spike in oxytocin occurs in both humans and dogs when they gaze into each other&apos;s eyes. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Find Link Between Gestational Diabetes And Autism

Scientists Find Link Between Gestational Diabetes And Autism

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2015) Researchers who analyzed data from over 300,000 kids and their mothers say they&apos;ve found a link between gestational diabetes and autism. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Video Messages Help Reassure Dementia Patients

Video Messages Help Reassure Dementia Patients

AP (Apr. 17, 2015) Family members are prerecording messages as part of a unique pilot program at the Hebrew Home in New York. The videos are trying to help victims of Alzheimer&apos;s disease and other forms of dementia break through the morning fog of forgetfulness. (April 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Boy or Girl? Intersex Awareness Is on the Rise

Boy or Girl? Intersex Awareness Is on the Rise

AP (Apr. 17, 2015) At least 1 in 5,000 U.S. babies are born each year with intersex conditions _ ambiguous genitals because of genetic glitches or hormone problems. Secrecy and surgery are common. But some doctors and activists are trying to change things. (April 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins