Streptococcus mutans is a major pathogen of dental caries. Collagen-binding proteins (CBPs) (approximately 120 kDa), termed Cnm and Cbm, are regarded as important cell surface antigens related to the adherence of S. mutans to collagenous tissue. Furthermore, CBP-positive S. mutans strains are associated with various systemic diseases involving bacteremia, such as infective endocarditis. Endodontic infection is considered to be an important cause of bacteremia, but little is known regarding the presence of S. mutans in dental pulp tissue. In the present study, the distribution and virulence of S. mutans in dental pulp tissues were investigated by focusing on CBPs. Adhesion and invasion properties of various S. mutans strains were analyzed using human dental pulp fibroblasts (HDPFs). CBP-positive strains had a significantly higher rate of adhesion to HDPFs compared with CBP-defective isogenic mutant strains (P<0.001). In addition, CBP-positive strains induced HDPF proliferation, which is a possible mechanism related to development of hyperplastic pulpitis. The distribution of S. mutans strains isolated from infected root canal specimens was then analyzed by PCR. We found that approximately 50% of the root canal specimens were positive for S. mutans. Approximately 20% of these strains were Cnm-positive, while no Cbm-positive strains were isolated. The Cnm-positive strains isolated from the specimens showed adhesion to HDPFs. Our results suggest that CBP-positive S. mutans strains exhibit high colonization in dental pulp. This could be a possible virulence factor for various systemic diseases.
R., N., Y., O., & K., N. (2016). Contribution of the collagen-binding proteins of Streptococcus mutans to bacterial colonization of inflamed dental pulp. PLoS ONE, 11(7). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0159613