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Cranberry Flavonoids Modulate Cariogenic Properties of Mixed-Species Biofilm through Exopolysaccharides-Matrix Disruption

Kim D, Hwang G, Liu Y, Wang Y, Singh AP, Vorsa N, Koo H
PLoS ONE 10(12):e0145844

The exopolysaccharides (EPS) produced by Streptococcus mutans-derived glucosyltransferases (Gtfs) are essential virulence factors associated with the initiation of cariogenic biofilms. EPS forms the core of the biofilm matrix-scaffold, providing mechanical stability while facilitating the creation of localized acidic microenvironments. Cranberry flavonoids, such as A-type proanthocyanidins (PACs) and myricetin, have been shown to inhibit the activity of Gtfs and EPS-mediated bacterial adhesion without killing the organisms. Here, we investigated whether a combination of cranberry flavonoids disrupts EPS accumulation and S. mutans survival using a mixed-species biofilm model under cariogenic conditions. We also assessed the impact of cranberry flavonoids on mechanical stability and the in situ pH at the biofilm-apatite interface. Topical application of an optimized combination of PACs oligomers (100-300 muM) with myricetin (2 mM) twice daily was used to simulate treatment regimen experienced clinically. Treatments with cranberry flavonoids effectively reduced the insoluble EPS content (>80% reduction vs. vehicle-control; p0.001), while hindering S. mutans outgrowth within mixed-species biofilms. As a result, the 3D architecture of cranberry-treated biofilms was severely compromised, showing a defective EPS-matrix and failure to develop microcolonies on the saliva-coated hydroxyapatite (sHA) surface. Furthermore, topical applications of cranberry flavonoids significantly weaken the mechanical stability of the biofilms; nearly 90% of the biofilm was removed from sHA surface after exposure to a shear stress of 0.449 N/m2 (vs. 36% removal in vehicle-treated biofilms). Importantly, in situ pH measurements in cranberry-treated biofilms showed significantly higher pH values (5.2 +/- 0.1) at the biofilm-apatite interface vs. vehicle-treated biofilms (4.6 +/- 0.1). Altogether, the data provide important insights on how cranberry flavonoids treatments modulate virulence properties by disrupting the biochemical and ecological changes associated with cariogenic biofilm development, which could lead to new alternative or adjunctive antibiofilm/anticaries chemotherapeutic formulations.