Developing and Standardizing a Protocol for Quantitative Proton Nuclear Magnetic Resonance ( 1 H NMR) Spectroscopy of Saliva

Alexander Gardner, Harold G. Parkes, Guy H. Carpenter, Po Wah So (Lead / Corresponding author)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Citations (Scopus)
126 Downloads (Pure)


Metabolic profiling by 1 H NMR spectroscopy is an underutilized technology in salivary research, although preliminary studies have identified promising results in multiple fields (diagnostics, nutrition, sports physiology). Translation of preliminary findings into validated, clinically approved knowledge is hindered by variability in protocol for the collection, storage, preparation, and analysis of saliva. This study aims to evaluate the effects of differing sample pretreatments on the 1 H NMR metabolic profile of saliva. Protocol considerations are highly varied in the current literature base, including centrifugation, freeze-thaw cycles, and different NMR quantification methods. Our findings suggest that the 1 H NMR metabolite profile of saliva is resilient to any change resulting from freezing, including freezing of saliva prior to centrifuging. However, centrifugation was necessary to remove an unidentified broad peak between 1.24 and 1.3 ppm, the intensity of which correlated strongly with saliva cellular content. This peak obscured the methyl peak from lactate and significantly affected quantification. Metabolite quantification was similar for saliva centrifuged between 750g to 15000g. Quantification of salivary metabolites was similar whether quantified using internal phosphate-buffered sodium trimethylsilyl-[2,2,3,3- 2 H 4 ]-propionate (TSP) or external TSP in a coaxial NMR tube placed inside the NMR tube containing the saliva sample. Our results suggest that the existing literature on salivary 1 H NMR will not have been adversely affected by variations of the common protocol; however, use of TSP as an internal standard without a buffered medium appears to affect metabolite quantification, notably for acetate and methanol. We include protocol recommendations to facilitate future NMR-based studies of saliva.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1521-1531
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Proteome Research
Issue number4
Early online date2 Mar 2018
Publication statusPublished - 6 Apr 2018


  • saliva
  • NMR
  • metabolomic profiling
  • protocol standardization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • General Chemistry


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