Salivary inflammatory biomarkers are predictive of mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease in a feasibility study

Kym McNicholas, Maxime François, Jian Wei Liu, James D. Doecke, Jane Hecker, Jeff Faunt, John Maddison, Sally Johns, Tara L. Pukala, Robert A. Rush, Wayne R. Leifert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
12 Downloads (Pure)


Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is an insidious disease. Its distinctive pathology forms over a considerable length of time without symptoms. There is a need to detect this disease, before even subtle changes occur in cognition. Hallmark AD biomarkers, tau and amyloid-β, have shown promising results in CSF and blood. However, detecting early changes in these biomarkers and others will involve screening a wide group of healthy, asymptomatic individuals. Saliva is a feasible alternative. Sample collection is economical, non-invasive and saliva is an abundant source of proteins including tau and amyloid-β. This work sought to extend an earlier promising untargeted mass spectrometry study in saliva from individuals with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or AD with age- and gender-matched cognitively normal from the South Australian Neurodegenerative Disease cohort. Five proteins, with key roles in inflammation, were chosen from this study and measured by ELISA from individuals with AD (n = 16), MCI (n = 15) and cognitively normal (n = 29). The concentrations of Cystatin-C, Interleukin-1 receptor antagonist, Stratifin, Matrix metalloproteinase 9 and Haptoglobin proteins had altered abundance in saliva from AD and MCI, consistent with the earlier study. Receiver operating characteristic analysis showed that combinations of these proteins demonstrated excellent diagnostic accuracy for distinguishing both MCI (area under curve = 0.97) and AD (area under curve = 0.97) from cognitively normal. These results provide evidence for saliva being a valuable source of biomarkers for early detection of cognitive impairment in individuals on the AD continuum and potentially other neurodegenerative diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1019296
Number of pages11
JournalFrontiers in Aging Neuroscience
Publication statusPublished - 10 Nov 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • biomarker
  • cognitive impairment
  • dementia
  • inflammation
  • saliva


Dive into the research topics of 'Salivary inflammatory biomarkers are predictive of mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease in a feasibility study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this