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Biol Psychol. 2011 Jan;86(1):50-6. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsycho.2010.10.006. Epub 2010 Oct 16.

The feasibility of ambulatory biosensor measurement of salivary alpha amylase: Relationships with self-reported and naturalistic psychological stress.

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Department of Psychology, University of California, Los Angeles, USA.


Recent developments in biosensor technology allow point-of-use reporting of salivary alpha amylase (sAA) levels while approaching the precision and accuracy of conventional laboratory-based testing. We deployed a portable prototype sAA biosensor in 54 healthy, male dental students during a low stress baseline and during final exams. At baseline, participants completed the Brief Symptom Inventory (BSI). At baseline and the exam week, participants provided saliva samples at 10 AM, 1 PM, and 5 PM, and rated concurrent subjective distress. Although subjective distress was higher during exams compared to baseline, sAA levels did not differ between baseline and exams. Higher sAA levels were related to higher concurrent subjective distress, and higher depressive and social isolation symptoms on the BSI were related to lower sAA during exams. Results from this study, in combination with previous validation data, suggest that the sAA biosensor is a promising tool for point-of-use measures of exposure to stress.

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