Prolonged enteral or parenteral nutrition in neonatal periods sometimes results in eating difficulties persisting for years, with reduced food intake through the oral route and thereby reduced stimulation of the oral cavity. Aiming at describing the consequences on oral physiology, saliva of 21 children with eating difficulties (ED) was compared to that of 23 healthy controls, using various omics and targeted methods. Overall, despite heterogeneity within the groups (age, medication etc.), the three spectral methods (MALDI-TOF, SELDI-TOF, (1)H NMR) allowed discriminating ED and controls, confirming that oral stimulation by food intake plays a role in shaping the composition of saliva. Saliva of ED patients exhibited a lower antioxidant status and lower levels of the salivary protease inhibitors cystatins. Other discriminant features (IgA1, dimethylamine) may relate to modified oral and/or intestinal microbial ecology. Finally, salivary profiles of ED patients were partly comparable to those of subjects with exacerbated gustatory sensitivities, in particular with reduced abundance of cystatin SN and higher abundance of zinc-alpha-2-glycoprotein. Whether this translates taste hypersensitivity and contributes to the eating difficulties deserves further attention.
Keywords: Children; Feeding difficulties; Profiling; Saliva; Tube feeding.
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