Non-coding RNAs in saliva: emerging biomarkers for molecular diagnostics

Int J Mol Sci. 2015 Apr 17;16(4):8676-98. doi: 10.3390/ijms16048676.


Saliva is a complex body fluid that comprises secretions from the major and minor salivary glands, which are extensively supplied by blood. Therefore, molecules such as proteins, DNA, RNA, etc., present in plasma could be also present in saliva. Many studies have reported that saliva body fluid can be useful for discriminating several oral diseases, but also systemic diseases including cancer. Most of these studies revealed messenger RNA (mRNA) and proteomic biomarker signatures rather than specific non-coding RNA (ncRNA) profiles. NcRNAs are emerging as new regulators of diverse biological functions, playing an important role in oncogenesis and tumor progression. Indeed, the small size of these molecules makes them very stable in different body fluids and not as susceptible as mRNAs to degradation by ribonucleases (RNases). Therefore, the development of a non-invasive salivary test, based on ncRNAs profiles, could have a significant applicability to clinical practice, not only by reducing the cost of the health system, but also by benefitting the patient. Here, we summarize the current status and clinical implications of the ncRNAs present in human saliva as a source of biological information.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Molecular Diagnostic Techniques
  • RNA, Untranslated / genetics
  • RNA, Untranslated / metabolism*
  • Saliva / metabolism*
  • Sequence Analysis, RNA


  • Biomarkers
  • RNA, Untranslated