The specific degree-of-polymerization of A-type proanthocyanidin oligomers impacts Streptococcus mutans glucan-mediated adhesion and transcriptome responses within biofilms

Cranberry A-type proanthocyanidins (PACs) have been recognized for their inhibitory activity against bacterial adhesion and biofilm-derived infections. However, the precise identification of the specific classes of degree-of-polymerization (DP) conferring PACs bioactivity remains a major challenge owing to the complex chemistry of these flavonoids. In this study, chemically characterized cranberries were used in a multistep separation and structure-determination technique to isolate A-type PAC oligomers of defined DP. The influences of PACs on the 3D architecture of biofilms and Streptococcus mutans-transcriptome responses within biofilms were investigated. Treatment regimens that simulated topical exposures experienced clinically (twice-daily, 60 s each) were used over a saliva-coated hydroxyapatite biofilm model. Biofilm accumulation was impaired, while specific genes involved in the adhesion of bacteria, acid stress tolerance, and glycolysis were affected by the topical treatments (vs the vehicle-control). Genes (rmpC, mepA, sdcBB, and gbpC) associated with sucrose-dependent binding of bacteria were repressed by PACs. PACs of DP 4 and particularly DP 8 to 13 were the most effective in disrupting bacterial adhesion to glucan-coated apatitic surface (>85% inhibition vs vehicle control), and gene expression (eg rmpC). This study identified putative molecular targets of A-type cranberry PACs in S. mutans while demonstrating that PAC oligomers with a specific DP may be effective in disrupting the assembly of cariogenic biofilms.