Aggregation of Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 by Human Salivary Secretions

Crit Rev Oral Biol Med. 1993;4(3-4):467-74. doi: 10.1177/10454411930040033001.


Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV-1) is generally transmitted by parenteral contact with infected body secretions. Although extensive epidemiological data and familial studies have failed to provide any conclusive data that saliva may act as a vehicle for transmission of AIDS, both professional and public anxieties remain. The present study, as well as others, suggests that salivary secretions may act as inhibitors of HIV-1 replication in vitro. In our study, the inhibitory activity was determined to be associated mainly with secretions obtained from the human submandibular-sublingual glands. Human submandibular-sublingual (HSMSL) and parotid (HPS) salivas were collected and tested for their ability to modulate the replication of HIV-1, using a plaque assay on HeLa/CD4+ cell monolayers. Initial results examining freshly collected salivary samples from ten individuals confirmed the results previously obtained by Fox et al. (1988, 1989). An average plaque reduction of approximately 66% was obtained with HSMSL, in contrast to 34% reduction obtained with HPS. Titration of the inhibitory activity in HSMSL showed detectable levels at a 1:500 dilution. Comparison of inhibitory activity of dialyzed and lyophilized saliva to fresh saliva indicated little difference between the two samples when filtration occurred after the addition of HIV-1. However, the effect of filtration was significantly diminished in the lyophilized samples. Electron microscopic examination of the saliva-HIV incubates revealed the aggregation/entrapment of virus particles by salivary components. These results suggest that human salivary secretions (with HSMSL > HPS) may have a role in modulating the infectivity of HIV-1.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antiviral Agents / physiology
  • Chemical Precipitation
  • HIV-1 / physiology*
  • HIV-1 / ultrastructure
  • Humans
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Parotid Gland / metabolism
  • Saliva / chemistry
  • Saliva / physiology*
  • Salivary Proteins and Peptides / chemistry
  • Salivary Proteins and Peptides / physiology
  • Sublingual Gland / metabolism
  • Submandibular Gland / metabolism
  • Viral Plaque Assay
  • Virus Replication


  • Antiviral Agents
  • Salivary Proteins and Peptides