Distribution and persistence of probiotic Streptococcus salivarius K12 in the human oral cavity as determined by real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction

Oral Microbiol Immunol. 2007 Apr;22(2):126-30. doi: 10.1111/j.1399-302X.2007.00334.x.


The bacteriocin producer Streptococcus salivarius K12 is used as a probiotic targeting the oral cavity, so our study aimed to assess whether its dispersal and persistence could be monitored using real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction. To this end, we designed polymerase chain reaction primers and a hybridization probe specifically targeting salA, which encodes for the prepropeptide of salivaricin A. Using a single individual as our subject, we administered four lozenges of K12 Throat Guard per day over 3 days, then measured salA gene levels for 16 different oral sites at six different intervals over 35 days. Four samples each from gingival sulci and from teeth all remained negative. In contrast, in saliva and at all mucosal membranes K12 was detected, but with varying amounts and time profiles. Relatively high salA gene copy numbers, calibrated on the basis of colony-forming units, were seen on the tongue (maximum 4.6 x 10(4)/swab at day 4), in stimulated saliva (2.4 x 10(4)/ml, day 4) and on buccal membranes (1.3 x 10(4)/swab, day 8). K12 was present on both sides of the pharynx but asymmetrically in both quantity and duration. In conclusion, we have developed a real-time quantitative-polymerase chain reaction for counting S. salivarius K12 at various sites in the oral cavity. In the individual studied, K12 could be detected at the mucosal membranes for as long as 3 weeks, but with steadily decreasing numbers after day 8. Thus, K12 may have the potential to control oral bacterial infections only when the uptake is repeated frequently.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Colony Count, Microbial
  • DNA Primers
  • DNA, Bacterial / analysis
  • Halitosis / microbiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mouth Mucosa / microbiology*
  • Nucleic Acid Hybridization
  • Pharyngitis / microbiology
  • Pharynx / microbiology
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction / methods
  • Probiotics*
  • Saliva / microbiology
  • Streptococcus / genetics
  • Streptococcus / isolation & purification*
  • Time Factors


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • DNA Primers
  • DNA, Bacterial
  • salivaricin A