Salivary biomarkers for diagnosis of systemic diseases and malignant tumors. A systematic review

M Meleti, D Cassi, P Vescovi, G Setti, T-A Pertinhez, M-E Pezzi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Saliva evaluation could be a possible alternative to blood and/or tissue analyses, for researching specific molecules associated to the presence of systemic diseases and malignancies. The present systematic review has been designed in order to answer to the question "are there significant associations between specific salivary biomarkers and diagnosis of systemic diseases or malignancies?".

MATERIALS AND METHODS: The Preferred Reporting Item for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analysis (PRISMA) statement was used to guide the review. The combinations of "saliva" and "systemic diseases" or "diagnosis" or "biomarkers" or "cancers" or "carcinoma" or "tumors", were used to search Medline, Scopus and Web of Science databases. Endpoint of research has been set at May 2019. Studies were classified into 3 groups according to the type of disease investigated for diagnosis: 1) malignant tumors; 2) neurologic diseases and 3) inflammatory/metabolic/cardiovascular diseases. Assessment of quality has been assigned according to a series of questions proposed by the National Institute of Health. Level of evidence was assessed using the categories proposed in the Oxford Center for Evidence-Based medicine (CEMB) levels for diagnosis (2011).

RESULTS: Seventy-nine studies met the inclusion and exclusion criteria. Fifty-one (64%) investigated malignant tumors, 14 (17.5%) neurologic and 14 (18.5%) inflammatory/cardiovascular/metabolic diseases. Among studies investigating malignant tumors, 12 (23.5%) were scored as "good" and 11 of these reported statistically significant associations between salivary molecules and pathology. Two and 5 studies were found to have a good quality, among those evaluating the association between salivary biomarkers and neurologic and inflammatory/metabolic/cardiovascular diseases, respectively.

CONCLUSIONS: The present systematic review confirms the existence of some "good" quality evidence to support the role of peculiar salivary biomarkers for diagnosis of systemic diseases (e.g. lung cancer and EGFR).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e299-e310
JournalMedicina Oral, Patologia Oral y Cirugia Bucal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 2020


  • Biomarkers
  • Cardiovascular Diseases
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms
  • Saliva


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