Identification of anti-biofilm components in Withania somnifera and their effect on virulence of Streptococcus mutans biofilms

J Appl Microbiol. 2015 Aug;119(2):571-81. doi: 10.1111/jam.12851. Epub 2015 Jun 25.


Aims: The aim of this study was to identify components of the Withania somnifera that could show anti-virulence activity against Streptococcus mutans biofilms.

Methods and results: The anti-acidogenic activity of fractions separated from W. somnifera was compared, and then the most active anti-acidogenic fraction was chemically characterized using gas chromatography-mass spectroscopy. The effect of the identified components on the acidogenicity, aciduricity and extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) formation of S. mutans UA159 biofilms was evaluated. The change in accumulation and acidogenicity of S. mutans UA159 biofilms by periodic treatments (10 min per treatment) with the identified components was also investigated. Of the fractions, n-hexane fraction showed the strongest anti-acidogenic activity and was mainly composed of palmitic, linoleic and oleic acids. Of the identified components, linoleic and oleic acids strongly affected the acid production rate, F-ATPase activity and EPS formation of the biofilms. Periodic treatment with linoleic and oleic acids during biofilm formation also inhibited the biofilm accumulation and acid production rate of the biofilms without killing the biofilm bacteria.

Conclusions: These results suggest that linoleic and oleic acids may be effective agents for restraining virulence of S. mutans biofilms.

Significance and impact of the study: Linoleic and oleic acids may be promising agents for controlling virulence of cariogenic biofilms and subsequent dental caries formation.

Keywords: Streptococcus mutans biofilm; Withania somnifera; acidogenicity; aciduricity; dental caries; linoleic acid.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biofilms / drug effects*
  • Dental Caries / microbiology
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry
  • Humans
  • Plant Extracts / chemistry*
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Streptococcal Infections / microbiology*
  • Streptococcus mutans / drug effects
  • Streptococcus mutans / pathogenicity*
  • Streptococcus mutans / physiology*
  • Virulence / drug effects
  • Withania / chemistry*


  • Plant Extracts