Background: Saliva, which offers a noninvasive and stress-free alternative to plasma and serum, is a widely accepted sample source for analysis of steroids and also of certain amines and peptides. In recent years, numerous publications have described the use of salivary hormone analysis in many fields of clinical and basic research.
Content: This review provides an overview of the current applications of salivary hormone analysis. A description of the different modes of hormone entry into saliva is followed by a detailed description of analytical methods and approaches for reliable collection of saliva, including several interesting applications in diverse fields including psychiatry, stress research, clinical endocrinology, sports medicine, and veterinary medicine.
Summary: Although saliva has not yet become a mainstream sample source for hormone analysis, it has proven to be reliable and, in some cases, even superior to other body fluids. Nevertheless much effort will be required for this approach to receive acceptance over the long term, especially by clinicians. Such effort includes the development of specific and standardized analytical tools, the establishment of defined reference intervals, and implementation of round-robin trials. One major problem, the lack of compliance sometimes seen in outpatient saliva donors, requires strict standardization of both collection and analysis methods to achieve better comparability and assessment of published salivary hormone data.