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Saliva Testing for Hormones

John Stone, Ph.D.

Saliva is the secretion of the salivary glands of the mouth. gland. It is produced within the gland cells and secreted via the golgi apparatus into the ducts of the gland. It never comes in contact with blood.For hormone to be present in saliva, one of several things would have to happen. The hormone would have to have a receptor on the membrane of the cell. Then if it were taken into the cell, it would then have to cross another membrane of the golgi apparatus.

As far as I know, salivary cells are not affected by hormonal changes -- and there are no disease states of salivary glands that are hormonally regulated. This indicates that there are no hormone receptors on salivary cells.

Hormones would not pass the basement membranes of the salivary duct system without active transport. I can find no indication of any such active transport in salivary glands.

The psychology literature contains a few reports on stress effects on cortisol levels in saliva. There is no indication that saliva levels of cortisol is directly correlated with cortisol levels in the blood.. Nor can I find any range of "normals" for salivary cortisol levels.

The lab claims to test DHEA, testosterone, estriol, estradiol, estrone, progesterone, testosterone, and androstenedione. I cannot find any "normal" levels for any of these substances in the literature for saliva. Nor can I find any correlations between salivary levels and blood levels. There is no indication of what the lab inteprets as abnormal values. There are a series of check boxes of symptoms that supposedly can be confired by saliva testing for hormones.

I know of no commercially available hormone test kits that are approved for saliva. All that I am aware of are approved only for plasma, serum, or urine (and rarely cerebrospinal fluid ). The package inserts that I have seen with these kits do not mention saliva, cross-reactions in saliva testing, normal values for saliva testing, or references to saliva testing.

Since testing for these hormones in serum are both accurate and straightforward, with published and well established normal values, the only reason I can see for any saliva testing would be to avoid taking a blood sample. A laboratory or doctor's office would probably refuse to draw a sample to be sent to a lab of this nature. So the alternative is to self-provide a saliva sample. I could not find on the web page shipping instructions for the sample, such as refigeration, sterility, or stability.




1. B
Dr. Stone

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This article was posted on December 12, 1999.