Salivary collection and analysis is rapidly developing as a tool for the assessment of physiological biomarkers of sports training. The use of saliva for monitoring steroid, peptide, and immune markers in sport and exercise has made saliva sampling and analysis very attractive to sports scientist in the field. Saliva can provide a useful, non-invasive alternative to the collection of serum and plasma, because it can be collected rapidly, frequently and without stress. Furthermore, salivary collection requires less medical training and can be performed on the sports field.
What measurements can we perform in saliva?
Hormones and immune markers concentration associated with overtraining can be determined with salivary analysis. Indeed, there are now kits available for the determination of testosterone and cortisol levels. To remind you, the testosterone/cortisol ratio is used as an indication of the anabolic/catabolic balance. This ratio decreases in relation to the intensity and duration of exercise, as well as during periods of intense training or repetitive competition, and can be reversed by regenerative techniques. Immune markers are detectable in saliva as well and help to determine the risk of respiratory infections.
Is salivary composition similar to the blood?
Total concentrations of most of these compounds are much lower in saliva when compared with serum or plasma. It seems, however, that they can provide a reliable reference for their respective blood concentrations.
Is saliva collection easy?
Yes, it is. Before sampling, players must avoid food or drink intake as well as exercise. About 10 min before sampling, players must wash their mouth with water. Players should avoid brushing their teeth.
For more reading
Papacosta and Nassis. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, April 6, Epub ahead of print