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Study Correlates Antimicrobial Peptides and Tooth Decay in Children

September 29, 2005

Although sometimes overlooked, human saliva plays a critical role in fighting off destructive pathogens in the mouth and preventing tooth decay. A key component of saliva's first-line oral defense system is the so-called "secreted antimicrobial peptides," or AMPs. Research suggests two specific varieties of AMPs, known as defensins and cathelicidins, have broad antimicrobial effects against both gram negative and positive oral bacteria. What remains unclear is whether variations in the levels of these secreted peptides among children correlate with tooth decay risk. In the September issue of Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, a group of NIDCR grantees and colleagues found extensive variation in AMP levels among children and noted that salivary levels of a peptide known as HNP1-3 “may contribute to caries susceptibility and could be a new and useful measure of risk for caries in children.”

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This page last updated: February 26, 2014