Anti-Bacterial and Anti-Biofilm Activities of Anandamide against the Cariogenic Streptococcus mutans

Goldie Wolfson, Ronit Vogt Sionov*, Reem Smoum, Maya Korem, Itzhack Polacheck, Doron Steinberg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Streptococcus mutans is a cariogenic bacterium in the oral cavity involved in plaque formation and dental caries. The endocannabinoid anandamide (AEA), a naturally occurring bioactive lipid, has been shown to have anti-bacterial and anti-biofilm activities against Staphylococcus aureus. We aimed here to study its effects on S. mutans viability, biofilm formation and extracellular polysaccharide substance (EPS) production. S. mutans were cultivated in the absence or presence of various concentrations of AEA, and the planktonic growth was followed by changes in optical density (OD) and colony-forming units (CFU). The resulting biofilms were examined by MTT metabolic assay, Crystal Violet (CV) staining, spinning disk confocal microscopy (SDCM) and high-resolution scanning electron microscopy (HR-SEM). The EPS production was determined by Congo Red and fluorescent dextran staining. Membrane potential and membrane permeability were determined by diethyloxacarbocyanine iodide (DiOC2(3)) and SYTO 9/propidium iodide (PI) staining, respectively, using flow cytometry. We observed that AEA was bactericidal to S. mutans at 12.5 µg/mL and prevented biofilm formation at the same concentration. AEA reduced the biofilm thickness and biomass with concomitant reduction in total EPS production, although there was a net increase in EPS per bacterium. Preformed biofilms were significantly affected at 50 µg/mL AEA. We further show that AEA increased the membrane permeability and induced membrane hyperpolarization of these bacteria. AEA caused S. mutans to become elongated at the minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC). Gene expression studies showed a significant increase in the cell division gene ftsZ. The concentrations of AEA needed for the anti-bacterial effects were below the cytotoxic concentration for normal Vero epithelial cells. Altogether, our data show that AEA has anti-bacterial and anti-biofilm activities against S. mutans and may have a potential role in preventing biofilms as a therapeutic measure.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number6177
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number7
StatePublished - 24 Mar 2023

Bibliographical note

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© 2023 by the authors.


  • S. mutans
  • anandamide
  • anti-bacterial
  • anti-biofilm
  • endocannabinoids


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