Characterization of the differentiated antioxidant profile of human saliva

Free Radic Biol Med. 2002 Feb 1;32(3):268-77. doi: 10.1016/s0891-5849(01)00806-1.


Saliva is armed with various defense mechanisms, such as the immunological and enzymatic defense systems. In addition, saliva has the ability to protect the mucosa against mechanical insults and to promote its healing via the activity of epidermal growth factor. However, another defense mechanism, the antioxidant system, exists in saliva and seems to be of paramount importance. The most interesting finding of the present study was the demonstration of the existence of much higher concentrations of the various salivary molecular and enzymatic antioxidant parameters in the parotid saliva compared with the submandibular/sublingual saliva. For example, peroxidase, superoxide dismutase, uric acid, and total antioxidant status were higher in resting parotid saliva compared with resting submandibular/sublingual saliva by 2405, 235, 245, and 147%, respectively. Another important finding was the distinction between the salivary antioxidant system and the immunological and enzymatic protective systems, as represented by the salivary concentrations of secretory IgA and lysozyme, respectively. These findings suggest that the profound antioxidant capacity of saliva secreted from parotid glands is related either to the different physiological demands related to eating (parotid predominance), to oral integrity maintenance (submandibular/sublingual predominance), or to the high content of deleterious redox-active transitional metal ions present in parotid saliva. This also may signify that our oral cavity environment is only partially protected against oxidative stress during most of the day and night.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Antioxidants / analysis*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin A / analysis
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muramidase / metabolism
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Parotid Gland / metabolism
  • Peroxidase / metabolism
  • Saliva / chemistry*
  • Saliva / enzymology
  • Sulfhydryl Compounds / analysis
  • Superoxide Dismutase / metabolism
  • Uric Acid / analysis


  • Antioxidants
  • Immunoglobulin A
  • Sulfhydryl Compounds
  • Uric Acid
  • Peroxidase
  • Superoxide Dismutase
  • Muramidase