- Sampling blood serum to check for infections may not be feasible especially when children are involved as it is invasive.
- New study shows that the sampling saliva for antibodies is equally effective as antibody levels in saliva may be linked to those in the blood.
- This would be a cost-effective and non-invasive strategy to identify bacterial infections.
Testing the saliva for antibody levels could be a new method for assessment of protection against bacterial infection.
This is because the antibody levels in saliva are linked to those in blood serum.
‘The sampling of saliva has the potential to be used as an indicator of overall health and it also has important implications for markers of immunity and vaccination in many parts of the world.’
Usually the protection against bacterial infection is usually inferred by measuring antibody levels in blood serum. But taking blood samples is cumbersome as it involves a number of logistical considerations and may not always be feasible, especially in developing countries or where children are involved.
Saliva sampling is cost-feective, non-invasive and requires no specialist training or equipment.
For the study, 72 healthy individuals were recruited and their samples of both blood and saliva were taken.
The samples were then analyzed for concentrations of IgG, IgM and IgA antibodies against 12 pneumococcal (Pn) antigens.
The researchers found that, higher antibody concentrations in serum were associated with higher concentrations in saliva, and the strongest relationships were observed for IgA antibodies.
"The suggestion that antibody levels in saliva may be indicative of those in serum therefore has important implications for markers of immunity and vaccination in many parts of the world. This research highlights the need for larger studies further to investigate the potential of saliva testing as a tool to assess immunity." lead author, Dr Jennifer Heaney from the School of Immunity and Infection at the University of Birmingham, says.
Previous research from the University of Birmingham had suggested that an elevated risk of mortality has been associated with lower levels of antibodies in saliva.
Especially in developing countries, measuring antibodies in saliva may have promise in future epidemiological studies relating to vaccination against bacterial infections.
The study was conducted by researchers from the University of Birmingham and published in the journal Biomarkers
- Jennifer Heaney et al. The utility of saliva for the assessment of anti-pneumococcal antibodies: investigation of saliva as a marker of antibody status in serum. Biomarkers; (2016)