Sucrose has five structural isomers: palatinose, trehalulose, turanose, maltulose and leucrose. Although these isomers have been reported to be noncariogenic disaccharides, which cannot be utilized by mutans streptococci, there is no information about their fermentability by other bacteria in dental plaque. The purpose of the present study was to examine whether these isomers were fermented by predominant bacteria in human dental plaque. Clinical bacterial isolates obtained from dental plaque from 3 children aged 22 months to 50 months (146 strains) were inoculated into 3 ml of peptone-yeast extract (PY medium) containing glucose for 1 day, then an aliquot of 20 μl of culture medium was inoculated into 1 ml of PY medium containing 1% (w/v) of the respective test carbohydrates. After incubation for 1 day, the pH values and the optical density at 660 nm of the cultures were measured. Fermentation ability was measured by pH ≤ 5.5, growth by an OD660 of ≥ 0.5. Of the clinical isolates, 33% fermented palatinose, and 69% of these were Actinomyces species. All of the palatinose-fermenting bacterial strains fermented trehalulose, 25% fermented turanose, 70% fermented maltulose and 23% fermented leucrose. We therefore conclude that, in human dental plaque, there are significant numbers of bacteria that are able to ferment sucrose isomers.
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