Antimicrobial factors, sialic acid, and protein concentration in whole saliva of the elderly

Scand J Dent Res. 1994 Apr;102(2):120-5. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0722.1994.tb01166.x.


Concentrations of salivary antimicrobial factors are well documented in children and young adults, but little information is available on such defense factors in healthy elderly persons. We determined the levels of total IgA, total IgG, lysozyme, lactoferrin, myeloperoxidase, salivary peroxidase, amylase, sialic acid, and total protein in a group of 71 subjects aged 76, 81, and 86 yr, as well as their correlations to paraffin-wax-stimulated salivary flow rate. Participants were either unmedicated (n = 67) or using medicines with no oral significance (n = 4). Statistically significant negative correlations existed between flow rate and total IgA, lysozyme, lactoferrin, sialic acid, and total protein. Concentrations of sialic acid and salivary peroxidase were highest in the oldest age group. Total IgA concentration was higher in women than in men, although men showed higher concentrations of sialic acid and higher sialic acid/total protein ratios. Subjects with poor gingival health had higher concentrations of total protein than did those with no need for periodontal treatment. Edentulous subjects with complete dentures showed significantly lower concentrations of IgG, lactoferrin, and myeloperoxidase than did dentate subjects. Our results suggest that, when compared with data from previous studies, concentrations of salivary antimicrobial agents do not decline with age in unmedicated elderly people. However, defense factors which are derived also from gingival crevicular fluid are decreased in the absence of teeth.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Amylases / analysis
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / analysis*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Denture, Complete
  • Denture, Partial, Removable
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin A, Secretory / analysis
  • Immunoglobulin G / analysis
  • Lactobacillus / isolation & purification
  • Lactoferrin / analysis
  • Male
  • Muramidase / analysis
  • N-Acetylneuraminic Acid
  • Peroxidase / analysis
  • Peroxidases / analysis
  • Prospective Studies
  • Saliva / chemistry*
  • Saliva / metabolism
  • Saliva / microbiology
  • Salivary Proteins and Peptides / analysis*
  • Secretory Rate / physiology
  • Sialic Acids / analysis*
  • Streptococcus mutans / isolation & purification


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Immunoglobulin A, Secretory
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Salivary Proteins and Peptides
  • Sialic Acids
  • Peroxidases
  • Peroxidase
  • Amylases
  • Muramidase
  • Lactoferrin
  • N-Acetylneuraminic Acid