Genetic contributions to saliva protein concentrations in adult human twins

J. D. Rudney, B. S. Michalowicz, M. A. Krig, P. K. Kane, B. L. Pihlstrom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


The heritability of saliva protein concentrations was investigated in stored samples of clarified stimulated whole saliva from adult twins participating in a study of periodontal disease genetics. Saliva was obtained from 29 monozygous and 20 dizygous twin pairs. Visits were scheduled so that both twins in a pair donated saliva at the same time of day. Flow rate was determined, and frozen samples later assayed for lactoferrin, lysozyme, secretory IgA, total peroxidase, myeloperoxidase and total protein. Pairs were always assayed together. Within- and between-pair variances were used to estimate twin intraclass correlations. Pearson correlations were used to estimate associations between saliva variables and clinical indices of gingivitis, dental plaque, periodontal attachment loss, and probing depth. Significant genetic contributions to variance were seen for total protein, lactoferrin, and total peroxidase. Total protein showed a significant positive correlation with gingivitis. There were no other correlations with clinical indices, and intraclass correlations for saliva variables did not change after adjustment for gingivitis. Dizygous twin correlations were higher than monozygous twin correlations for flow rate, lysozyme, and secretory IgA. That may be an artefact due to small numbers of pairs. It seems unlikely that a common environmental factor would strongly affect saliva in twins living apart as adults. Present findings, taken as sib correlations, support a genetic contribution to saliva protein concentrations. Problems with the twin model in saliva might be resolved by longitudinal studies of large numbers of twins.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)513-517
Number of pages5
JournalArchives of Oral Biology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1994

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
in this study is gratefully acknowledged. We also thank the Minnesota Twin Family Registry, the Minnesota Study of Twins Reared Apart, and the Minnesota Clinical Dental Research Center. Studies were supported by Grants DE 07233, DE 08158 and DE 09737 from the National Institute for Dental Research


  • lactoferrin
  • lactoperoxidase
  • lysozyme
  • myeloperoxidase
  • periodontal disease
  • saliva
  • secretory IgA
  • twins

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