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Eur J Oral Sci. 1999 Oct;107(5):328-37.

Chitinase in whole and glandular human salivas and in whole saliva of patients with periodontal inflammation.

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Department of Medical Chemistry, Faculty of Medicine, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


In recent studies the existence of a chitinase in various mammals, like man, was described. The aim of the present study was to find out whether salivas of periodontally healthy and inflamed humans also contain chitinase activity. Chitinase activity, assayed with the substrate 4-methylumbelliferyl-beta-D-N,N',N"-triacetylchitotrioside, was shown to be present in human whole saliva, with an activity level and apparent molecular mass (35 kDa) that were comparable with those of the human serum enzyme. Both lysozyme and beta-N-acetylhexosaminidase could be separated from chitinase by means of Bio-Gel P-100 gel filtration chromatography. The enzyme was also present in glandular saliva of parotid, palatine, submandibular and sublingual glands. The chitinase activity was not of oral epithelial, bacterial or plaque bacterial origin and was not correlated with the activity of salivary amylase. A comparative study of whole salivas of periodontally healthy controls and gingivitis and periodontitis subjects showed that only in the case of periodontitis there was a significant increase of the specific chitinase activity. The latter enzyme showed a gel filtration pattern that was comparable with that of the enzyme from controls. The measured albumin levels in saliva and the absence of correlation between the chitinase activity levels in plasma and saliva from periodontitis patients indicated that the (increased) chitinase activities did not originate from blood leakage to the oral cavity.

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