Salivary alpha-amylase as a non-invasive biomarker for the sympathetic nervous system: current state of research

Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2009 May;34(4):486-96. doi: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2009.01.014. Epub 2009 Feb 26.


Development of new biomarkers is a constantly evolving field of research endeavor in psychoneuroendocrinology. Salivary biomarkers have received special attention since they are readily accessible and easily obtained. Salivary alpha-amylase (sAA) has been proposed as a sensitive biomarker for stress-related changes in the body that reflect the activity of the sympathetic nervous system (SNS), and a growing body of research is accumulating to support the validity and reliability of this parameter. However, questions remain to be answered before sAA can be accepted as an index of SNS activity. This review describes sAA as an emerging biomarker for stress and provides an overview of the current literature on stress-related alterations in sAA. It critically discusses how sAA might reflect changes in the autonomic nervous system. Finally, current and future fields for the application of sAA measurement are outlined.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Rats
  • Saliva / enzymology*
  • Salivary Glands / anatomy & histology
  • Salivary Glands / enzymology
  • Salivary alpha-Amylases / metabolism*
  • Stress, Psychological / metabolism*
  • Sympathetic Nervous System / metabolism*


  • Biomarkers
  • Salivary alpha-Amylases