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Clin Chem. 1983 Oct;29(10):1752-6.

Hormones in saliva: mode of entry and consequent implications for clinical interpretation.


Assay of hormones in saliva would be more convenient than assay in blood, but there is no information on the route by which hormones enter saliva, information that would provide insight into the clinical value of such assays. We have examined the mode of entry of various hormones into saliva. The results suggest that unconjugated steroids enter saliva by diffusing through the cells of the salivary glands and that their concentration in saliva does not depend on the rate of saliva production. Conjugated steroids enter saliva via "ultrafiltration" through the tight junctions between the acinar cells, and their concentration in saliva is highly flow-rate dependent. Thyroxin and choriogonadotropin enter saliva via the ultrafiltration route or by contamination of the saliva by plasma or gingival fluid. We conclude that the salivary concentration of unconjugated steroids may usefully reflect the concentration of free (nonprotein-bound) steroids in plasma. Conversely, the concentration of conjugated steroids, thyroxin, and protein hormones such as choriogonadotropin in saliva probably does not reflect their concentration in plasma in any clinically useful way.

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