Acetaldehyde is known to be carcinogenic and produced by oral bacteria. Thus, bacterial acetaldehyde production might contribute to oral cancer. Therefore, we examined bacterial acetaldehyde production from ethanol and glucose under various conditions mimicking the oral cavity and clarified the metabolic pathways responsible for bacterial acetaldehyde production. Streptococcus mitis, S. salivarius, S. mutans, Neisseria mucosa and N. sicca were used. The bacterial metabolism was conducted at pH 5.0–8.0 under aerobic and anaerobic conditions. The production of acetaldehyde and organic acids was measured with gas chromatography and HPLC, respectively. Bacterial enzymes were also assessed. All of the bacteria except for S. mutans exhibited their greatest acetaldehyde production from ethanol at neutral to alkaline pH under aerobic conditions. S. mutans demonstrated the greatest acetaldehyde from glucose under anaerobic conditions, although the level was much lower than that from ethanol. Alcohol dehydrogenase and NADH oxidase were detected in all of the bacteria. This study revealed that oral indigenous bacteria, Streptococcus and Neisseria can produce acetaldehyde, and that such acetaldehyde production is affected by environmental conditions. It was suggested that alcohol dehydrogenase and NADH oxidase are involved in ethanol-derived acetaldehyde production and that the branched-pathway from pyruvate is involved in glucose-derived acetaldehyde production.
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