Biomarkers for Alzheimer's Disease in Saliva: A Systematic Review

Biomarkers in Medicine

Gleerup HS, Hasselbalch SG and Simonsen AH.

Dis Markers. 2019 May 2 doi: 10.1155/2019/4761054



The histopathological changes of Alzheimer's disease (AD) are detectable decades prior to its clinical expression. However, there is a need for an early, inexpensive, noninvasive diagnostic biomarker to detect specific Alzheimer pathology. Recently developed neuroimaging biomarkers show promising results, but these methods are expensive and cause radiation. Furthermore, the analysis of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) biomarkers requires an invasive lumbar puncture. Saliva is an easily obtained body fluid, and a stable salivabiomarker would therefore be a promising candidate for a future method for diagnosing AD. The purpose of this systematic review was to investigate studies of biomarkers in saliva samples for the diagnosis of AD.


The included articles were identified through a literature search in PubMed and Google Scholar for all articles until November 1st, 2018, and furthermore, all reference lists of included articles were reviewed by hand. We included articles written in English investigating saliva from patients with AD and a control group.


A total of 65 studies were identified, whereof 16 studies met the inclusion criteria and were included in the systematic review. A plethora of different biomarkers were investigated, and ten out of the sixteen studies showed a statistical significance in biomarkers between patients with AD and healthy, elderly controls, among these biomarkers for specific AD pathology (amyloid beta 1-42 (Aβ42) and tau).


Aβ42 and tau seem to be worthy candidates for future salivary biomarkers for AD, but other biomarkers such as lactoferrin and selected metabolites also have potential. More studies must be carried out with larger sample sizes and a standardization of the sampling and processing method. Factors such as diurnal variation, AD patients' decreased ability of oral self-care, and salivary flowrates must be taken into consideration.