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    Study: Saliva test shows promise in checking immunity status

    Determining a patient’s immunity status may as simple as using an oral swab, according to a new study.

    The report, titled, “The utility of saliva for the assessment of anti-pneumococcal antibodies: investigation of saliva as a marker of antibody status in serum,” published in the journal Biomarkers, revealed that saliva antibodies may serve as a non-invasive marker of systemic immunity status for certain vaccines that fight bacterial infections. Researchers assessed IgG, IgA and IgM antibody levels from saliva compared to those found in serum and found higher concentrations in saliva than in serum for IgG and IgA antibodies. Salivary IgM antibodies found in saliva, however, did not reveal protective status.

    Some of the bacterial infections tied to these antibodies include Streptococcus pneumoniae (S. pneumoniae), which causes up to half of community acquired pneumonia (CAP) cases.

    While serum studies have been the standard in assessing antibodies and protective status, assessment using saliva could be particularly useful in settings where resources are scarce.

    “Saliva sampling may be able to help address the challenges of measuring antibodies in certain populations and settings and offer a potential biomarker of systemic immunity and vaccination; future studies in large populations are required to develop, optimize and validate further,” according to the report. “A non-invasive method of assessing protection against bacterial disease and vaccination responses could be particularly beneficial in countries introducing new vaccination programs/aiming to increase coverage. Saliva is an attractive method of specimen collection, particularly for children and the elderly, field research, or where repeated measures are required.”

    Next: More research needed

    Rachael Zimlich, RN
    Ms Zimlich is a freelance writer in Cleveland, Ohio. She writes regularly for Contemporary Pediatrics, Managed Healthcare Executive, and ...

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