Live and let die: Hydrogen peroxide production by the commensal flora and its role in maintaining a symbiotic microbiome

Sylvio Redanz, Xingqun Cheng, Rodrigo A. Giacaman, Carmem Pfeifer, Justin Merritt, Jens Kreth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Scopus citations


The majority of commensal oral streptococci are able to generate hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) during aerobic growth, which can diffuse through the cell membrane and inhibit competing species in close proximity. Competing H2O2 production is mainly dependent upon the pyruvate oxidase SpxB, and to a lesser extent the lactate oxidase LctO, both of which are important for energy generation in aerobic environments. Several studies point to a broad impact of H2O2 production in the oral environment, including a potential role in biofilm homeostasis, signaling, and interspecies interactions. Here, we summarize the current research regarding oral streptococcal H2O2 generation, resistance mechanisms, and the ecological impact of H2O2 production. We also discuss the potential therapeutic utility of H2O2 for the prevention/treatment of dysbiotic diseases as well as its potential role as a biomarker of oral health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalMolecular Oral Microbiology
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2018



  • Biofilms
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Streptococci

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Dentistry(all)
  • Microbiology (medical)

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