Salivary biomarkers of oral health – a cross-sectional study


  • Conflict of interest and sources of funding statement

    The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest. The study was initiated and financially supported by the Regional Board of Dental Public Health in the county of Skåne. The study was also supported by the Swedish National Graduate School in Odontological Science, the Department of Dental Medicine, Division of Periodontology, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden, the Academy of Finland and Helsinki University Central Hospital Research Foundation. Timo Sorsa is inventor of US-Patents 5652227, 5866432 and 6143476.


Nilminie Rathnayake

Department of Dental Medicine

Division of Periodontology

Karolinska Institutet

Box 4064, SE 141 04 Huddinge





Saliva is a useful diagnostic fluid for oral-related diseases. Monitoring salivary biomarkers for oral and systemic diseases could become an important complement to clinical examinations in epidemiological surveys. Recent findings indicate that it is possible to detect biomarkers for oral diseases within saliva samples. The aim of this study was to investigate if known salivary biomarkers could be used for epidemiological studies for detection of periodontitis.

Materials and Methods

A randomly selected sample of adults (20–89 years) living in Southern Sweden were invited to participate. Four hundred and fifty-one individuals were examined clinically using standard examination procedures. Stimulated saliva samples were collected and analysed for concentrations of IL-1β, -6, -8, lysozyme, matrix metalloproteinases (MMP)-8 and tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase (TIMP)-1 using ELISA, immunofluorometric assay or Luminex assays.


Patients with severe periodontitis presented with elevated salivary concentrations of IL-1β (p < 0.001) and MMP-8 (p < 0.001). In addition, the MMP-8/TIMP-1 ratio was significantly higher in the severe periodontitis group (p < 0.001). Smokers compared with non-smokers showed slightly lower concentrations of IL–8 (p < 0.05) and MMP-8 (p = 0.052).


This investigation shows that IL-1β, MMP-8 and the ratio of MMP-8/TIMP-1 could be used as markers of periodontal disease in larger patient populations.