Dental caries is an infectious disease, which has been associated with Streptococcus mutans in humans. The mucosal immune system produces salivary secretory immunoglobulin A (S-IgA) in response to this infection. Objectives: This study evaluates caries prevalence associated with S. mutans colonization and S-IgA activity in a high-caries-risk cohort. Methods: Decayed, missing, filled surfaces (dmfs) of primary teeth for 88 children (age 5-6 years) were recorded at baseline visits. Saliva samples were collected for analyses by ELISA of total and specific S-IgA activity against S. mutans. S. mutans was isolated from plaque samples from a group of 27 children (mean 13 isolates/child) for genotyping using repetitive extragenic palindromic-PCR. Results: Fifty-four children from this cohort (54/88=61%) were shown to have a history of dental caries (mean dmfs for caries positive group = 19). The caries positive group had a mean total S-IgA of 271μg/ml (median=183μg/ml), while the 34 caries-free-children had a mean of 191μg/ml (median=159μg/ml, difference was NS). Fourteen children were found to have only one S. mutans genotype (14/27=52%) a finding that was associated with lower dmfs (mean = 8.6) when compared to 13 children who had multiple genotypes (mean dmfs=19.2, p=0.030). Total S-IgA levels were significantly lower in the single genotype-group (mean=172μg/ml, median=160μg/ml) compared to the multiple S. mutans genotype-group (mean=323μg/ml, median=253μg/ml, p=0.048). However, specific S-IgA anti-S. mutans levels were higher in the single genotype group, but not significantly different from the multiple genotype group. Conclusion: Total S-IgA and number of S. mutans genotypes are positively correlated with the prevalence of dental caries in this cohort. A longitudinal assessment of S-IgA responses with dental caries and related specific S. mutans genotype may explain the association to dental caries in a high-risk population.
Supported by NIDCR research grant DE016684 & DART trainee grant DE017607
Keywords: Caries, Children, Immune response and Salivary IgA