The aim of this study was to investigate the inhibitory effect of xylitol on the growth of and acid production by mutans streptococci in the presence of various dietary sugars, and the relationship between the inhibition and the accumulation of xylitol 5-phosphate (X5P) under strictly anaerobic conditions like those in the deep layers of dental plaque. Xylitol retarded the growth of mutans streptococci in the presence of glucose (G), galactose (Gal), maltose (M), lactose (L) or sucrose (S) as an energy source, though the inhibition of growth on fructose (Fr) was small. Xylitol inhibited acid production by washed cells of Streptococci mutans from G, Gal, M, L or S (12-83% inhibition). S. mutans accumulated X5P intracellularly through activity of the phosphoenolpyruvate-xylitol phosphotransferase system (PEP-xylitol PTS) when they fermented these sugars in the presence of xylitol. However, in the presence of Fr, no inhibition of acid production was observed. In addition, the amounts of X5P during the fermentation of Fr were smaller than those of other sugars in spite of the presence of PEP-xylitol PTS activity. These results suggest that along with the intracellular accumulation of X5P, xylitol decreases the growth and acid production of mutans streptococci in the presence of various dietary sugars except Fr.
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