Garlic allicin as a potential agent for controlling oral pathogens

Gilad Bachrach*, Areen Jamil, Ronit Naor, Golan Tal, Zvi Ludmer, Doron Steinberg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Garlic has been used medicinally throughout human history. Allicin is considered the most therapeutic constituent of garlic. This study tested the antimicrobial activity of garlic allicin on oral pathogens associated with dental caries and periodontitis. Allicin was found effective against all the tested bacteria. The broth dilution method revealed that planktonic growth of the cariogenic, gram-positive species Streptococcus mutans, S. sobrinus, and Actinomyces oris was inhibited by an allicin concentration of 600μg/mL or higher. Planktonic growth of the tested gram-negative periopathogenic species Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans and Fusobacterium nucleatum was inhibited by a minimum allicin concentration of 300μg/mL. Porphyromonas gingivalis, an anaerobic, gram-negative pathogen and the bacterium most associated with chronic periodontitis, demonstrated the lowest sensitivity to allicin (2,400μg/mL). Gel zymography and the synthetic chromogenic substrate Nα- benzoyl-L-arginine 4-nitroanilide hydrochloride demonstrated that allicin inhibits the proteases of P. gingivalis, including the arginine and lysine gingipains known as major virulence factors of this organism. A gingipain-inactivated mutant demonstrated high sensitivity to allicin (<300μg/mL), revealing that gingipains confer resistance to allicin. Live/dead staining followed by analysis with confocal laser scanning microscopy revealed that allicin was bactericidal to S. mutans grown in mature biofilms. However, this bactericidal effect was reduced as biofilm depth increased. In conclusion, these results support the traditional medicinal use of garlic and suggest the use of allicin for alleviating dental diseases.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1338-1343
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Medicinal Food
Issue number11
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2011


  • allicin
  • caries
  • garlic
  • periodontitis


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