Theophylline increases saliva sonic hedgehog and improves taste dysfunction

Arch Oral Biol. 2017 Oct;82:263-270. doi: 10.1016/j.archoralbio.2017.06.022. Epub 2017 Jun 16.


Objective: To determine changes in saliva sonic hedgehog (Shh) and in taste dysfunction before and after oral theophylline treatment.

Design: Shh was measured in parotid saliva of both normal subjects and patients with taste dysfunction of multiple etiologies by use of a sensitive spectrophotometric ELISA assay. Taste dysfunction was defined clinically by both subjective inhibition of taste function (including acuity loss) and impaired gustometry.

Results: Theophylline treatment increased patient saliva Shh and improved taste dysfunction both subjectively and by gustometry.

Conclusions: By use of these systematic clinical measurements theophylline can be demonstrated to increase saliva Shh and improve taste dysfunction. These results are consistent with saliva Shh acting as a taste bud growth factor which stimulates stem cells of taste buds to initiate development and perpetuation of taste bud receptors. Measurements of saliva Shh provide an important marker for the presence of taste dysfunction and in the improvement by theophylline treatment.

Keywords: Hypogeusia; Saliva; Sonic hedgehog; Taste; Theophylline.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Child
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Female
  • Hedgehog Proteins / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Phosphodiesterase Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Saliva / metabolism*
  • Taste Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Taste Disorders / etiology
  • Theophylline / pharmacology*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Hedgehog Proteins
  • Phosphodiesterase Inhibitors
  • Theophylline