Activity of Synthetic Antimicrobial Peptide GH12 against Oral Streptococci

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Controlling the growth of cariogenic microorganisms such as oral streptococci is an adjunct therapy for caries-active individuals to prevent and treat caries. Here we investigated the antimicrobial activity of the synthetic amphipathic α- helical antimicrobial peptide GH12 (GLLWHLLHHLLH-NH2) against oral streptococci in vitro. Circular dichroism studies showed that GH12 takes on an α-helical conformation in the presence of membrane-mimicking solvents, and reversed-phase high-performance liquid chromatography studies showed that GH12 remains stable in saliva. The peptide showed bactericidal activity against oral streptococci, with minimum inhibitory concentrations ranging from 6.7 to 32.0 μg/ml. GH12 concentrations 4-fold higher than the minimum bactericidal concentration completely killed oral streptococci within 20 min. Treating oral streptococci with GH12 caused noticeable changes in bacterial viability and morphology based on confocal laser scanning microscopy and scanning electron microscopy. Effects of GH12 on biofilm formation and on viability of mature biofilm were quantified by crystal violet staining and the 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide assay. GH12 effectively inhibited biofilm formation and metabolic activity in biofilms of oral streptococci, especially S. mutans, S. sobrinus and S. salivarius. These results suggest that GH12 shows rapid and strong antimicrobial activity against oral streptococci in vitro, opening the door to preclinical and clinical studies to explore its potential for caries prevention and treatment.

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