Levels of antibodies in saliva are associated with the risk of mortality, revealed researchers at the University of Birmingham. This means there could soon be a saliva test that could predict if you are at a risk of dying.
The researchers observed that lower levels of antibodies in saliva are associated with of an elevated risk of mortality, and could be an early indicator of risk. The study examined associations between secretory immunoglobulin A (IgA), the common antibody found in saliva and mortality rates in the general population.
‘Saliva sampling to determine IgA secretion rate has the potential to be used as an indicator of early death risk. It is much less invasive than blood sampling.’
The team believe that as it appears to be a marker of mortality risk and is much less invasive than blood sampling, saliva sampling to determine IgA secretion rate has the potential to be used as an indicator of overall health by professionals as part of a general check-up.
Dr. Anna Phillips explained, "There are a number of factors that can affect how well we produce antibodies and maintain their levels. There are some that we have no control over, such as age, heritability or illness, but our general state of health can also affect their levels; stress, diet, exercise, alcohol and smoking can all influence those levels. Quite how saliva samples could be used in check-ups remains to be seen, as we need to better understand what secretion rate would be considered cause for concern - what we call the protective level. We could certainly say that, if found to be extremely low, it would be a useful early indicator of risk."
The study is published in PLOS ONE.