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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Effect of xylitol on growth of Streptococcus pneumoniae in the presence of fructose and sorbitol.

Xylitol is effective in preventing acute otitis media by inhibiting the growth of Streptococcus pneumoniae. To clarify this inhibition we used fructose, which is known to block similar growth inhibition observed in Streptococcus mutans. In addition, we evaluated the efficacy of sorbitol in inhibiting the growth of pneumococci, as sorbitol is widely used for indications similar to those for which xylitol is used. The addition of 5% xylitol to the growth medium resulted in marked growth inhibition, an effect which was totally eliminated in the presence of 1, 2.5, or 5% fructose but not in the presence of 1 or 5% glucose, 1% galactose, or 1% sucrose. This finding implies that xylitol-induced inhibition of pneumococcal growth is mediated via the fructose phosphotransferase system in a way similar to that in which mutans group streptococcal growth is inhibited. The addition of sorbitol at concentrations of 1, 2.5, or 5% to the growth medium did not affect the growth of pneumococci and neither inhibited nor enhanced the xylitol-induced growth impairment. Thus, it seems that xylitol is the only commercially used sugar substitute proven to have an antimicrobial effect on pneumococci.[1]


  1. Effect of xylitol on growth of Streptococcus pneumoniae in the presence of fructose and sorbitol. Tapiainen, T., Kontiokari, T., Sammalkivi, L., Ikäheimo, I., Koskela, M., Uhari, M. Antimicrob. Agents Chemother. (2001) [Pubmed]
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