Antigens in Streptococcus mutans cross reactive with human heart muscle

J Dent Res. 1976 Apr;55 Spec No:C59-64. doi: 10.1177/002203457605500326011.


An antigen that cross reacts with mammalian heart tissue has been shown to be present in several strains of S mutans. Inoculation of S mutans into rabbits elicited heart-reactive antibody as part of the immunologic response. This heart-reactive antibody was demonstrated to be tissue-specific in that it only bound heart and smooth muscle tissue. Similar results have been previously reported using group A streptococci. Adsorption studies using sarcolemmal sheaths, group A streptoccal membranes, and fractions of cariogenic streptococci demonstrated the presence of a similar antigen. The aforementioned fractions could remove heart-reactive antibody from both immune rabbit serums and serums from patients with acute rheumatic fever. These findings dictate the necessity for testing any future caries vaccine containing fractions of S mutans for the presence of this cross-reactive antigen to avoid a possible autoimmunization.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adsorption
  • Animals
  • Antibodies / analysis
  • Antibody Formation
  • Antibody Specificity
  • Antigens, Bacterial*
  • Cell Membrane / immunology
  • Cell Wall / immunology
  • Cross Reactions*
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Humans
  • Immune Sera
  • Male
  • Myocardium / immunology*
  • Rabbits / immunology
  • Rheumatic Heart Disease / immunology
  • Streptococcus / immunology*
  • Streptococcus mutans / immunology*


  • Antibodies
  • Antigens, Bacterial
  • Immune Sera