Age-related changes in salivary antibodies to commensal oral and gut biota

R. S. Percival*, Phillip Marsh, S. J. Challacombe

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    28 Citations (Scopus)


    The prevalence of mucosally derived infections appears to increase with age, suggesting dysfunction at the mucosal surfaces. The present investigation was undertaken to examine any age-related changes in secretion rates and concentrations of secretory antibodies in whole and parotid saliva in a healthy adult population. A total of 116 subjects were subdivided into the following age groups: 20-39 years, 40-59 years, 60-79 years and 80 years and over. Specific immunoglobulin A (IgA), IgG and IgM antibodies in whole and parotid saliva to Streptococcus mutans (serotype c), Actinomyces viscosus NCTC 10951, and Escherichia coli NCTC 10418 were quantified by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. IgA antibodies to all three organisms examined increased with age in both whole and parotid saliva, whereas IgG antibody levels to S. mutans in whole saliva were significantly decreased with age. IgG antibodies to E. coli in parotid saliva were reduced in older age groups. IgM antibody levels to S. mutans were reduced with age in both secretions, whereas IgM antibodies to A. viscosus were greatest in the oldest age groups. No significant changes with age were observed in salivary IgM antibody levels to E. coil. No significant reduction in the secretion rates of IgA antibodies were observed in parotid or whole saliva, whereas IgG and IgM antibody secretion rates to all three microorganisms were reduced in most age groups in both whole and parotid saliva. The results of this investigation have demonstrated age-related changes with salivary antibodies, but, whereas salivary IgG and IgM antibodies showed decreases, salivary IgA levels generally increased with age. This suggests that the ability to form IgA antibody responses is not impaired with increased age, and that secretion rates and functional properties of antibodies may be as important as concentrations in protection against mucosal infective diseases.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)57-63
    Number of pages7
    JournalOral Microbiology and Immunology
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Feb 1997


    • Aging
    • Gut biota
    • Oral biota
    • Saliva
    • Specific antibody


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