Dynamics of salivary proteins and metabolites during extreme endurance sports - a case study

Proteomics. 2012 Jul;12(13):2221-35. doi: 10.1002/pmic.201100228.


As noninvasively accessible body fluid, saliva is of growing interest in diagnostics. To exemplify the diagnostic potential of saliva, we used a mass spectrometry-based approach to gain insights into adaptive physiological processes underlying long-lasting endurance work load in a case study. Saliva was collected from male and female athlete at four diurnal time points throughout a 1060 km nonstop cycling event. Total sampling time covered 180 h comprising 62 h of endurance cycling as well as reference samples taken over 3 days before the event, and over 2 days after. Altogether, 1405 proteins and 62 metabolites were identified in these saliva samples, of which 203 could be quantified across the majority of the sampling time points. Many proteins show clear diurnal abundance patterns in saliva. In many cases, these patterns were disturbed and altered by the long-term endurance stress. During the stress phase, metabolites of energy mobilization, such as creatinine and glucose were of high abundance, as well as metabolites with antioxidant functions. Lysozyme, amylase, and proteins with redox-regulatory function showed significant increase in average abundance during work phase compared to rest or recovery phase. The recovery phase was characterized by an increased abundance of immunoglobulins. Our work exemplifies the application of high-throughput technologies to understand adaptive processes in human physiology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Circadian Rhythm
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Metabolomics
  • Physical Endurance*
  • Proteomics
  • Saliva / metabolism*
  • Salivary Proteins and Peptides / metabolism*
  • Sports / physiology*


  • Salivary Proteins and Peptides