Salivary Biomarkers for Diagnosing Premalignant and Malignant Oral Lesions

Saliva cheek swab

Saliva-based biomarkers for pre-malignant and malignant lesions include proteins, nucleic acids, vitamins, ions, genomic and proteomic targets such as enzymes, growth factors, cytokines, metalloproteinases, endothelin, cytokeratin, mRNA, DNA aberrations, and telomerase.40-42 MMPs have been studied as possible cancer biomarkers and have been found to be linked to tumor invasion and metastasis.43

Other biomarkers include salivary IL-1β, and IL-8, methylation markers, actin, myosin and microRNAs (a small non-coding RNA molecule that regulates gene expression).44,45 The only currently available point-of-care technology to identify patients at risk of oral cancer is OralRisk® HPV (OralDNA® Labs, Eden Prairie, MN). It identifies biomarkers for oral human papilloma viruses, several strains of which are known to be associated with oral cancer.46