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Effect of xylitol and other carbon sources on Streptococcus pneumoniae biofilm formation and gene expression in vitro

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Kurola P, Tapiainen T, Sevander J, Kaijalainen T, Leinonen M, Uhari M, Saukkoriipi A. Effect of xylitol and other carbon sources on Streptococcus pneumoniae biofilm formation and gene expression in vitro. APMIS 2010; 119: 135–42.

Xylitol inhibits the growth of Streptococcus pneumoniae. In clinical trials, xylitol decreased the occurrence of acute otitis media in day-care children, but did not decrease nasopharyngeal carriage of pneumococci. We hypothesized that xylitol inhibits biofilm formation of pneumococci, and measured biofilm formation and gene expression levels of the capsule gene cpsB and two other genes: autolysin encoding gene lytA and competence gene comA in different growth media in vitro. Twenty pneumococcal isolates were grown on polystyrene plates for 18 h in test media containing 0.5% xylitol, 0.5% glucose, 0.5% xylitol and 0.5% glucose, 0.5% fructose, 0.5% xylitol and 0.5% fructose or brain heart infusion (BHI) medium supplemented with 10% horse serum. Gene expression levels were measured after 5 h of growth using a relative quantification method with calibrator normalization. Exposure to xylitol lowered OD values, which were used as an indication of biofilm, compared with BHI medium, but when the medium was supplemented with glucose or fructose, biofilm formation was enhanced and the inhibitory effect of xylitol on biofilm formation was not observed. Xylitol also lowered lytA expression levels. Changes in biofilm formation in response to different sugar compounds may partly explain the efficacy of xylitol to prevent acute otitis media in previous clinical trials.
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Keywords: Biofilm; gene expression; pneumococcus; xylitol

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: National Institute for Health and Welfare, Oulu 2: Department of Pediatrics, University of Oulu, Finland

Publication date: 2011-02-01

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