Understanding the human salivary metabolome

NMR Biomed. 2009 Jul;22(6):577-84. doi: 10.1002/nbm.1369.


Saliva is a readily accessible biofluid that is important for the overall health, aiding in the chewing, swallowing, and tasting of food as well as the regulation mouth flora. As a first step to determining and understanding the human saliva metabolome, we have measured salivary metabolite concentrations under a variety of conditions in a healthy population with reasonably good oral hygiene. Using (1)H NMR spectroscopy, metabolite concentrations were measured in resting (basal) and stimulated saliva from the same subject and compared in a cohort of healthy male non-smoking subjects (n = 62). Almost all metabolites were higher in the unstimulated saliva when compared to the stimulated saliva. Comparison of the salivary metabolite profile of male smokers and non-smokers (n = 46) revealed citrate, lactate, pyruvate, and sucrose to be higher and formate to be lower in concentration in smokers compared with non-smokers (p < 0.05). Gender differences were also investigated (n = 40), and acetate, formate, glycine, lactate, methanol, propionate, propylene glycol, pyruvate, succinate, and taurine were significantly higher in concentration in male saliva compared to female saliva (p < 0.05). These results show that differences between male and female, stimulated and unstimulated, as well as smoking status may be observed in the salivary metabolome.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Metabolome*
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Nuclear Magnetic Resonance, Biomolecular
  • Saliva* / chemistry
  • Saliva* / metabolism
  • Sex Factors
  • Smoking