Determinants of salivary alpha-amylase in humans and methodological considerations

Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2009 May;34(4):469-85. doi: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2008.12.004. Epub 2009 Jan 19.


Salivary alpha-amylase (sAA) has been proposed as a marker for activity of the sympathetic nervous system (SNS). Recent studies in support of this hypothesis have led to an increased number of researchers integrating amylase measurements into their study designs. Salivary alpha-amylase is produced locally in the salivary glands, controlled by the autonomic nervous system. This entails some methodological consequences and potential pitfalls that might lead to increased error variance and thus prevent successful testing of hypotheses. The goal of this review is to summarize basic and recent findings on methodological issues and potential factors influencing sAA measurement, and to derive a set of recommendations enabling researchers to successfully using sAA in psychoneuroendocrinological experiments.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Data Interpretation, Statistical
  • Humans
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Saliva / chemistry
  • Saliva / enzymology*
  • Salivary alpha-Amylases / analysis*
  • Salivary alpha-Amylases / metabolism*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Sex Factors
  • Specimen Handling / methods*
  • Specimen Handling / standards


  • Salivary alpha-Amylases