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Dev Psychobiol. 2014 May;56(4):797-811. doi: 10.1002/dev.21149. Epub 2013 Jul 19.

Salivary cytokines in healthy adolescent girls: Intercorrelations, stability, and associations with serum cytokines, age, and pubertal stage.

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Department of Population, Family and Reproductive Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland.


Theoretically, the measurement of cytokines in saliva may have utility for studies of brain, behavior, and immunity in youth. Cytokines in saliva and serum were analyzed across three annual assessments in healthy adolescent girls (N = 114, 11-17 years at enrollment). Samples were assayed for GM-CSF, IFNγ, IL-1β, IL-2, IL-6, IL-8, IL-10, IL-12p70, TNFα, adiponectin, and cotinine. Results revealed: (1) cytokine levels, except IFNγ and IL-10, were detectable in saliva, and salivary levels, except IL-8 and IL-1β, were lower than serum levels; (2) salivary cytokine levels were lower in older girls and positively associated with adiponectin; (3) compared to serum levels, the correlations between salivary cytokines were higher, but salivary cytokines were less stable across years; and (4) except for IL-1β, there were no significant serum-saliva associations. Variation in basal salivary cytokine levels in healthy adolescent girls reflect compartmentalized activity of the oral mucosal immune system, rather than systemic cytokine activity.


adolescent; cytokines; immune markers; saliva; serum

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