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Year : 2015  |  Volume : 141  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 253-254

Saliva: Secretion and functions

Maulana Azad Institute of Dental Sciences, MAMC Complex, Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg, New Delhi 110 002, India

Date of Web Publication21-Apr-2015

Correspondence Address:
Mahesh Verma
Maulana Azad Institute of Dental Sciences, MAMC Complex, Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg, New Delhi 110 002
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

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How to cite this article:
Verma M. Saliva: Secretion and functions. Indian J Med Res 2015;141:253-4

How to cite this URL:
Verma M. Saliva: Secretion and functions. Indian J Med Res [serial online] 2015 [cited 2020 Oct 21];141:253-4. Available from:

Saliva: Secretion and functions, A.J.M. Ligtenberg, E.C.I. Veerman, editors (Karger, Basel, Switzerland) 2014. 154 pages. Price: US $ 225.00 / CHF 214.00

ISBN 978-3-318-02595-8

This monograph is a comprehensive overview of the latest developments in salivary research by some of the leading global experts in the field. The content has been aptly classified into three sections dealing with anatomy and physiology, salivary functions, and diagnostics and disorders.

Chapter one discusses the anatomy and biogenesis of the major human salivary glands and the mouse submandibular salivary gland, which is used extensively as a research model. It includes a comprehensive review of recent research on the identification and function of stem cells in salivary glands, and the emerging field of research suggesting that nerves play an instructive role during development and may be essential for adult gland repair and regeneration. The authors provide an overview of the general approaches currently being developed to regenerate damaged salivary gland tissue including gene therapy, stem cell-based therapy and tissue engineering.

The second chapter deals with the mechanism of salivary secretion and its neural regulation. It reviews the recent advances in the understanding of membrane transport proteins involved in intracellular calcium signalling in the salivary acinar cells in response to nerve stimulation and the ion transport proteins responsible for the secretion of saliva by the acinar cells. Salivary glands retain their ability to regenerate following extreme atrophy, and autonomic nerves have an important role in both gland development and maintenance of long-term normal function. Increased understanding of the trophic influences of autonomic nerve signalling should benefit the development of therapeutic approaches to glandular regeneration. The chapter on salivary pellicles deals with their function, formation, composition and stability. The review of this booming area of research using experimental techniques, hitherto reserved for more traditional surface science studies, is comprehensive and enlightening towards future directions of research.

The chapter on antimicrobial defense systems in saliva discusses the various mechanisms by which the composition of the oral microflora is modulated. Saliva promotes the complexity of the oral microflora, which in itself protects against overgrowth by a few pathogenic species. It also harbours a large panel of antimicrobial proteins which directly and indirectly inhibit uncontrolled outgrowth of bacteria. The next chapter on saliva and wound healing discusses its role in faster healing of oral wounds. Saliva contains several proteins which play a role in different phases of wound healing. The role of tissue factor, epidermal growth factor, secretory tissue leukocyte protease inhibitor and histatins have been dealt with in brief.

Role of saliva in oral food perception is principally focussed on chemosensory perception. This includes protection of taste buds, salivary hormones involved in chemosensory perception, role of flow rates and electrolytes, interaction between saliva and organic compounds, and taste and aroma molecules. The varying relationships observed between saliva composition and sensory perception show that saliva is key to explaining the differences in food perception, acceptability and behaviour seen in the population. The development of proteomics and metabolomics appears promising. Saliva is capable of decreasing friction force by at least two orders of magnitude when in between hydrophobic surfaces. This ability to lubricate is the key to oral health, food processing and taste perception. The chapter on lubrication reviews different mechanisms of saliva lubrication and their interaction is demonstrated using a simple physical framework. The current understanding of the roles of the molecular structure and physicochemical properties of major salivary protein complexes on lubrication is summarized and critically evaluated.

The chapter on salivary diagnostics presents an overview of biomarker development and the multitude of techniques utilized in identifying saliva-based molecular indicators of disease. The authors present oral fluids as an easily accessible non invasive alternative to traditional diagnostic avenues and not just an essential component of the digestive process. Recent advancements in the field of molecular diagnostics reveal that saliva may contain real-time information regarding our overall physiological condition.

The chapter on the use of saliva markers in psychobiology discusses the greatly expanded and wide range of salivary biochemical parameters. The first part on "Mechanisms" discusses the main determinants of the saliva/plasma ratio (SPR): the mechanism by which plasma constituents enter saliva, i.e., passive diffusion, active transport, ultrafiltration, leakage, and associated physiochemical factors. The second part, on "Methods" provides an overview of central and peripheral neural mechanisms that regulate salivary gland function and release of glandular proteins. This provides a neurobiological underpinning for a section which addresses methodological implications for the assessment of glandular secretions. Salivary psychobiology is a fast-growing field and more rigorous studies are required for this discipline to reach its full potential.

A chapter dedicated to xerostomia deals with its primary causes Sjögren's syndrome, medication and radiotherapy of the head and neck. It also discusses the agents for prevention of xerostomia or restoration of lubrication. The next chapter on drooling comprehensively discusses the salivation and swallowing mechanisms and prevalence, causes, pathophysiology, clinical manifestations and management of drooling. The last chapter discusses the three most frequently diagnosed salivary gland diseases: infections, sialolithiasis and mucoceles. The authors reiterate that the aetiology of these three pathological entities can be obscure or multifactorial and the clinical features alarming and occasionally straddling.

Overall, this book will be useful not only for basic scientists working in the field of oral biology, but also for dental students, dentists and health professionals interested in exploring one of the most underestimated bodily fluids.


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