Eating disorders and biochemical composition of saliva: a retrospective matched case–control study

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Abstract

This study aimed to compare the biochemical composition of saliva from patients with eating disorders (EDs) with saliva from control subjects with no ED. All patients who initiated outpatient treatment in an ED clinic during a 12-month period were invited to participate. Of the 65 patients who started treatment during the period, 54 (50 female patients/four male patients; mean age: 21.5 yr) agreed to participate. The controls were 54 sex- and age-matched patients from a dental health clinic. All participants completed a questionnaire and underwent dental clinical examinations, including laboratory analyses of saliva. The proportion of subjects with unstimulated salivary hyposalivation was lower in the ED group and not correlated with intake of xerogenic drugs. Significant differences in the biochemical composition of saliva were found almost exclusively in the unstimulated state, with albumin, inorganic phosphate, aspartate aminotransferase (ASAT), chloride, magnesium, and total protein all being significantly higher in the ED group. Conditional logistic regression showed that higher ASAT and total protein concentrations were relatively good predictors of ED, with sensitivity and specificity of 65% and 67%, respectively. In conclusion, elevated salivary concentrations of ASAT and total protein may serve as indicators of ED as well as of disease severity. Future studies are needed to corroborate these initial findings.

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