Titanium implants in the oral cavity are covered with a saliva-derived pellicle to which early colonizing microorganisms such as Streptococcus oralis can bind. The protein profiles of salivary pellicles on titanium have not been well characterized and the proteins of importance for binding are thus unknown. Biofilm bacteria exhibit different phenotypes from their planktonic counterparts and contact with salivary proteins may be one factor contributing to the induction of changes in physiology. We have characterized salivary pellicles from titanium surfaces and investigated how contact with uncoated and saliva-coated titanium surfaces affects metabolic activity in adherent cells of S. oralis.
Salivary pellicles on smooth titanium surfaces were desorbed and these, as well as purified human saliva, were subjected to two-dimensional gel electrophoresis and mass spectroscopy. A parallel plate flow-cell model was used to study binding of a fresh isolate of S. oralis to uncoated and saliva-coated titanium surfaces. Metabolic activity was assessed using the BacLight CTC Vitality Kit and confocal scanning laser microscopy. Experiments were carried out in triplicate and the results analyzed using Student’s t-test or ANOVA.
Secretory IgA, α-amylase and cystatins were identified as dominant proteins in the salivary pellicles. Selective adsorption of proteins was demonstrated by the enrichment of prolactin-inducible protein and absence of zinc-α2-glycoprotein relative to saliva. Adherence of S. oralis to titanium led to an up-regulation of metabolic activity in the population after 2 hours. In the presence of a salivary pellicle, this effect was enhanced and sustained over the following 22 hour period.
We have shown that adherence to smooth titanium surfaces under flow causes an up-regulation of metabolic activity in the early oral colonizer S. oralis, most likely as part of an adaptation to the biofilm mode of life. The effect was enhanced by a salivary pellicle containing sIgA, α-amylase, cystatins and prolactin-inducible protein which was, for the first time, identified as an abundant component of salivary pellicles on titanium. Further studies are needed to clarify the mechanisms underlying the effect of surface contact on metabolic activity as well as to identify the salivary proteins responsible for enhancing the effect.