Deacidification of cranberry juice reduces its antibacterial properties against oral streptococci but preserves barrier function and attenuates the inflammatory response of oral epithelial cells.
Cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon) may be a potent natural adjuvant for the prevention of oral diseases due to its anti-adherence, anti-cariogenic, and anti-inflammatory properties. However, the high titrable acidity of cranberry juice (CJ) has been reported to cause gastrointestinal discomfort, leading consumers to restrict their intake of this beverage. Electrodialysis with a bipolar membrane (EDBM) can reduce the organic acid content of CJ while retaining the flavonoids associated with potential health benefits. This study aimed to assess how the deacidification of CJ by EDBM impacts the antibacterial properties of the beverage against cariogenic (Streptococcus mutans, Streptococcus sobrinus) and commensal (Streptococcus gordonii, Streptococcus oralis, Streptococcus salivarius) streptococci, and how it affects oral epithelial barrier function and inflammatory response in an in vitro model. The removal of organic acids from CJ (deacidification rate 42%) reduced the bactericidal activity of the beverage against planktonic S. mutans and S. gordonii after a 15-min exposure, whereas only the viability of S. gordonii was significantly impacted by CJ deacidification rate when the bacteria were embedded in a biofilm. Moreover, conditioning saliva-coated hydroxyapatite with undiluted CJ samples significantly lowered the adherence of S. mutans, S. sobrinus, and S. oralis. With respect to epithelial barrier function, exposure to CJ deacidified at a rate of 19% maintained the integrity of a keratinocyte monolayer over the course of 24 h compared to raw CJ, as assessed by the determination of transepithelial electrical resistance (TER) and fluorescein isothiocyanate-conjugated dextran paracellular transport. These results can be in part attributed to the inability of the deacidified CJ to disrupt two tight junction proteins, zonula occludens-1 and occludin, following exposure, unlike raw CJ. Deacidification of CJ impacted the secretion of IL-6, but not of IL-8, by oral epithelial cells. In conclusion, deacidification of CJ appears to provide benefits with respect to the maintenance of oral health.