Secretory Immunity in Defense against Cariogenic Mutans Streptococci

Academic Article


  • Specific immune defense against cariogenic mutans streptococci is provided largely by salivary secretory IgA antibodies, which are generated by the common mucosal immune system. This system is functional in newborn infants, who develop salivary IgA antibodies as they become colonized by oral microorganisms. The mechanisms of action of salivary IgA antibodies include interference with sucrose-independent and sucrose-dependent attachment of mutans streptococci to tooth surfaces, as well as possible inhibition of metabolic activities. The goal of protecting infants against colonization by mutans streptococci might be accomplished by applying new strategies of mucosal immunization that would induce salivary IgA antibodies without the complications of parenteral immunization. Strategies of mucosal immunization against mutans streptococci currently under development include the use of surface adhesins and glucosyltransferase as key antigens, which are being incorporated into novel mucosal vaccine delivery systems and adjuvants. The oral application of preformed, genetically engineered antibodies to mutans streptococcal antigens also offers new prospects for passive immunization against dental caries.
  • Published In

  • Caries Research  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Russell MW; Hajishengallis G; Childers NK; Michalek SM
  • Start Page

  • 4
  • End Page

  • 15
  • Volume

  • 33
  • Issue

  • 1