Effective Immunity to Dental Caries: Selective Induction of Secretory Immunity by Oral Administration of Streptococcus Mutans in Rodents

  • Suzanne M. Michalek
  • Jerry R. McGhee
  • Roland R. Arnold
  • Jiri Mestecky
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 107)


The bacterium Streptococcus mutans has been implicated as a principal microbial agent in dental caries in man (1) and experimental animals (2), although other bacterial species probably contribute to this disease (3). Dental caries develops in the presence of saliva in which secretory immunoglobulin A (s-IgA) is the predominant antibody (4). Recent animal studies have demonstrated a direct correlation between salivary s-IgA antibodies to either S. mutans whole cells (5,6) or glucosyltransferase preparations of S. mutans (7) and a reduction in the incidence of S. mutans induced dental caries. However, in all of these studies, significant levels of specific serum antibodies were detected that might have potentially adverse effects on the host (8,9). Other investigations have indicated that orally-ingested antigens can effectively induce a secretory immune response with little or no serum response (10,11). Our studies in rodents have demonstrated that oral administration of S. mutans antigen induced the production of specific s-IgA antibodies in colostrum, milk and saliva and afforded protection against subsequent infection (12).


Dental Caries Bovine Milk Caries Lesion Immunoglobulin Level Milk Control 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1978

Authors and Affiliations

  • Suzanne M. Michalek
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jerry R. McGhee
    • 1
    • 2
  • Roland R. Arnold
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jiri Mestecky
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Laboratory of Microbiology and Immunology, National Institute of Dental ResearchNational Institutes of HealthBethesdaUSA
  2. 2.Department of Microbiology and Institute of Dental ResearchUniversity of Alabama in BirminghamBirminghamUSA

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