Antimicrobial proteins in human unstimulated whole saliva in relation to each other, and to measures of health status, dental plaque accumulation and composition

J. D. Rudney, M. A. Krig, E. K. Neuvar, A. H. Soberay, L. Iverson

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Saliva antimicrobial proteins may interact in a common system to influence the oral ecology. Clinical studies of antimicrobial protein action thus may require a multiple-protein approach. Multivariate statistical methods have been used to describe possible patterns of interaction for lysozyme, lactoferrin, salivary peroxidase and secretory IgA in stimulated parotid saliva. However, oral microbes are most likely to encounter antimicrobial proteins in mixed resting saliva. Relationships among levels of lysozyme, lactoferrin, salivary peroxidase, and secretory IgA therefore were investigated in whole saliva from 216 subjects, and an attempt made to relate interperson variation in those proteins to differences in health and status, and dental plaque accumulation and composition. All proteins were significantly (α = 0.05) correlated with each other (r = 0.38-0.52, p < 0.001). There was only one axis of common variation among proteins, and that axis was significantly correlated (p < 0.001) with total protein (r = 0.84) and flow rate (r = -0.56). That pattern deviated from the previous finding that proteins of acinar origin tended to vary independently from proteins of ductal origin in stimulated parotid saliva. The difference between parotid and whole saliva may reflect constitutive secretion of all proteins at low levels of stimulation. Common variation of unstimulated saliva proteins suggests that antimicrobial actions can be compared in subjects at population extremes. There were no significant associations between antimicrobial proteins in whole saliva and measures of health status or plaque accumulation. However, the proportions of Streptococcus sanguis were significantly correlated with lysozyme (r = -0.26), lactoferrin (r = -0.34), peroxidase (r = -0.30), total protein (r = -0.37), flow rate (r = 0.24) and principal-components scores (r = -0.33) in a subset of subjects (n = 85) where commercial biochemical tests were used to supplement species identification by colony morphology. Those findings may indicate that saliva antimicrobial proteins can affect the composition of dental plaque.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)497-506
Number of pages10
JournalArchives of Oral Biology
Issue number7
StatePublished - 1991


  • Strep sanguis
  • lactoferrin
  • lysozyme
  • peroxidase
  • plaque
  • sIgA
  • saliva


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