Salivary flow and alpha-amylase: Collection technique, duration, and oral fluid type

Emilie K. Beltzer, Christine K. Fortunato, Melissa M. Guaderrama, Melissa K. Peckins, Bianca M. Garramone, Douglas A. Granger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

106 Scopus citations


There has been renewed interest in salivary alpha-amylase (sAA), a surrogate marker of autonomic/sympathetic activity, in biosocial research on stress vulnerability, reactivity, and recovery. This study explored the impact of saliva flow rate on sAA measurement by examining the influence of (1) the technique used to collect oral fluid-synthetic swab, cotton pledget, hydrocellulose microsponge, or passive drool; (2) collection point duration--the length of time the technique is employed (1-5 min); and (3) oral fluid type--whole unstimulated saliva (not absorbed by any material) or oral fluid sampled from areas near the parotid, submandibular, or sublingual salivary glands. sAA activity (U/mL) was the highest in oral fluid collected from the parotid and submandibular gland areas. The volume (mL) of oral fluid collected increased, and the activity of sAA (U/mL) decreased, as collection point duration lengthened. The magnitude of these effects varied according to collection technique and oral fluid type. Across all conditions, there were positive correlations (range .70-88) between sAA activity (U/mL) and sAA output (U/min). Management of these potential sources of measurement error will be essential to ensuring the success of future research on the correlates and concomitants of sAA activity, stress-related reactivity and recovery, and diurnal variation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)289-296
Number of pages8
JournalPhysiology and Behavior
Issue number2
StatePublished - Sep 2010


  • Parotid saliva
  • Saliva collection devices
  • Saliva volume
  • Salivary alpha-amylase
  • Salivary flow rate
  • Sublingual saliva
  • Submandibular saliva
  • Whole saliva

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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