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Am J Hum Biol. 2012 Jul-Aug;24(4):468-72. doi: 10.1002/ajhb.22247. Epub 2012 Feb 18.

Salivary alpha-amylase activity and stress in Japan air self-defense force cargo pilots involved in Iraq reconstruction.

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Division of Community Oral Health Science, Department of Health Promotion, School of Dentistry, Kyushu Dental College, 2-6-1 Manazuru, Kokurakita-ku, Kitakyushu, Japan.



This study aimed to verify whether salivary α-amylase enzyme activity (Amy) is useful as a biomarker of stress in pilots working in a stressful environment.


The subjects in this study were nine Japan air self-defense force pilots who participated in Iraq reconstruction support activity in Kuwait. Amy was measured using a portable salivary amylase monitor at preflight, postflight, and on stand-by day. In addition, the state-trait anxiety inventory was administered with state scores (STAI-S) compared to Amy levels.


There were greater differences in Amy levels at baseline compared to STAI-S scores between subjects on the stand-by day. Amy levels at preflight tended to increase compared to those on stand-by day as did STAI-S. The change in Amy level at postflight varied among the pilots. The Amy levels of four subjects at postflight were elevated compared to levels at preflight, while the STAI-S scores for all pilots at postflight were lower than at preflight.


This study suggests that the Amy level of pilots can reflect subtle individual differences in response to the psychological and physiological stress of a flight task. Thus, monitoring Amy level may be useful for stress evaluation of pilots working in a stressful environment, providing data that might be used as an impetus for addressing stress management for this population.

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