Saliva Samples as A Tool to Study the Effect of Meal Timing on Metabolic And Inflammatory Biomarkers

Nutrients. 2020 Jan 28;12(2):340. doi: 10.3390/nu12020340.


: Meal timing affects metabolic regulation in humans. Most studies use blood samples for their investigations. Saliva, although easily available and non-invasive, seems to be rarely used for chrononutritional studies. In this pilot study, we tested if saliva samples could be used to study the effect of timing of carbohydrate and fat intake on metabolic rhythms. In this cross-over trial, 29 nonobese men were randomized to two isocaloric 4-week diets: (1) carbohydrate-rich meals until 13:30 and high-fat meals between 16:30 and 22:00 or (2) the inverse order of meals. Stimulated saliva samples were collected every 4 h for 24 h at the end of each intervention, and levels of hormones and inflammatory biomarkers were assessed in saliva and blood. Cortisol, melatonin, resistin, adiponectin, interleukin-6 and MCP-1 demonstrated distinct diurnal variations, mirroring daytime reports in blood and showing significant correlations with blood levels. The rhythm patterns were similar for both diets, indicating that timing of carbohydrate and fat intake has a minimal effect on metabolic and inflammatory biomarkers in saliva. Our study revealed that saliva is a promising tool for the non-invasive assessment of metabolic rhythms in chrononutritional studies, but standardisation of sample collection is needed in out-of-lab studies.

Keywords: adiponectin; circadian clock; cortisol; cytokines; insulin; meal timing; melatonin; resistin; saliva; visfatin.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biomarkers / chemistry
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Dietary Carbohydrates
  • Dietary Fats
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Meals*
  • Middle Aged
  • Saliva / chemistry*


  • Biomarkers
  • Dietary Carbohydrates
  • Dietary Fats