The role of hydrogen peroxide in environmental adaptation of oral microbial communities

Lin Zhu, Jens Kreth

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

100 Scopus citations


Oral streptococci are able to produce growth-inhibiting amounts of hydrogen peroxide (H 2O 2) as byproduct of aerobic metabolism. Several recent studies showed that the produced H 2O 2 is not a simple byproduct of metabolism but functions in several aspects of oral bacterial biofilm ecology. First, the release of DNA from cells is closely associated to the production of H 2O 2 in Streptococcus sanguinis and Streptococcus gordonii. Extracellular DNA is crucial for biofilm development and stabilization and can also serve as source for horizontal gene transfer between oral streptococci. Second, due to the growth inhibiting nature of H 2O 2, H 2O 2 compatible species associate with the producers. H2O2 production therefore might help in structuring the initial biofilm development. On the other hand, the oral environment harbors salivary peroxidases that are potent in H 2O 2 scavenging. Therefore, the effects of biofilm intrinsic H 2O 2 production might be locally confined. However, taking into account that 80 of initial oral biofilm constituents are streptococci, the influence of H 2O 2 on biofilm development and environmental adaptation might be under appreciated in current research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number717843
JournalOxidative medicine and cellular longevity
StatePublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Aging
  • Cell Biology


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