Friday, August 28, 2009

Diagnostic Proteins in Saliva

You can buy your very own saliva collection device here.

This article was updated last December, but is still interesting reading. It is an interview with Dr. David Wong, University of California at Los Angeles School of Dentistry, who is studying the diagnostic value of saliva.

The salivary glands do not exist in isolation from the rest of the body. In other words, they are not just a series of glands that secrete fluid into the mouth. The salivary glands are connected to the rest of the body through blood vessels that nourish them and neural networks that innervate them. So, they contain information about health and disease and, with its ease of collection, saliva could serve as an ideal diagnostic fluid. That’s been the vision that has moved the concept forward through the years.

Dr. Wong elaborates:

....we know healthy people have on average 1,166 distinct proteins in their saliva. That gives us 1,166 places to look for measurable changes in protein expression that might be indicative of disease........ We pulled out 42 proteins and 16 peptides that were either over or under expressed in the Sjőgren’s group. So, these data really highlight the maturation of the salivary proteome as a diagnostic tool.

This suggests to me that saliva contains the constituents to reconstruct the disease process. It will be exciting to explore this possibility further and tease out more information of potential diagnostic value. Right now, a person faces a battery of expensive and time consuming tests to get a diagnosis of primary Sjőgren’s syndrome. Salivary diagnostics could make it simple, quick, and painless.

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