Dental plaque metabolizes both carbohydrates and amino acids. The former can be degraded to acids mainly, while the latter can be degraded to various metabolites, including ammonia, acids and amines, and associated with acid-neutralization, oral malodor and tissue inflammation. However, amino acid metabolism in dental plaque is still unclear. This study aimed to elucidate what kinds of amino acids are available as metabolic substrates and how the amino acids are metabolized in supragingival plaque, by a metabolome analysis. Amino acids and the related metabolites in supragingival plaque were extracted and quantified comprehensively by CE-TOFMS. Plaque samples were also incubated with amino acids, and the amounts of ammonia and amino acid-related metabolites were measured. The concentration of glutamate was the highest in supragingival plaque, while the ammonia-production was the highest from glutamine. The obtained metabolome profile revealed that amino acids are degraded through various metabolic pathways, including deamination, decarboxylation and transamination and that these metabolic systems may link each other, as well as with carbohydrate metabolic pathways in dental plaque ecosystem. Moreover, glutamine and glutamate might be the main source of ammonia production, as well as arginine, and contribute to pH-homeostasis and counteraction to acid-induced demineralization in supragingival plaque.
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