The utility of saliva for the assessment of anti-pneumococcal antibodies: investigation of saliva as a marker of antibody status in serum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Context: Salivary antibodies may act as non-invasive marker of systemic immunity enabling assessment of vaccination and protection against bacterial infections.

Objective: To assess if levels of anti-pneumococcal (Pn) antibodies in saliva reflect concentrations in serum and determine whether saliva can accurately identify protective concentrations in serum.

Methods: IgG, IgA and IgM antibody levels in paired saliva and serum samples were measured against 12 Pn polysaccharide antigens in 72 healthy adults.

Results: Antibody levels in saliva correlated positively with serum across immunoglobulin classes, most strongly for IgA. Individuals who had protective antibody levels in serum demonstrated significantly higher IgG and IgA salivary antibody concentrations/secretion rates. Salivary IgG and IgA Pn antibodies were able to distinguish between those with/without protective levels in serum for the majority of serotypes. Salivary IgM antibodies were not able to differentiate protective status. Median IgG and IgA Pn salivary parameters were able to identify individuals who had protective levels in serum on ≥8/12 serotypes with moderate accuracy: median IgA secretion rates provided the best sensitivity (73%) and specificity (71%).

Conclusions: These findings suggest that IgG and IgA Pn specific antibodies in saliva may be useful surrogate markers of antibody status in serum.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)115-122
Issue number2
Early online date25 Nov 2016
Publication statusPublished - 12 Dec 2016


  • antibody , serum , saliva , bacteria , pneumococcal , protection