Human saliva harbours proteins of clinical relevance and about 30% of blood proteins are also present in saliva. This highlights that saliva can be used for clinical applications just as urine or blood. However, the translation of salivary biomarker discoveries into clinical settings is hampered by the dynamics and complexity of the salivary proteome. This review focuses on the current status of technological developments and achievements relating to approaches for unravelling the human salivary proteome. We discuss the dynamics of the salivary proteome, as well as the importance of sample preparation and processing techniques and their influence on downstream protein applications; post-translational modifications of salivary proteome and protein: protein interactions. In addition, we describe possible enrichment strategies for discerning post-translational modifications of salivary proteins, the potential utility of selected-reaction-monitoring techniques for biomarker discovery and validation, limitations to proteomics and the biomarker challenge and future perspectives. In summary, we provide recommendations for practical saliva sampling, processing and storage conditions to increase the quality of future studies in an emerging field of saliva clinical proteomics. We propose that the advent of technologies allowing sensitive and high throughput proteome-wide analyses, coupled to well-controlled study design, will allow saliva to enter clinical practice as an alternative to blood-based methods due to its simplistic nature of sampling, non-invasiveness, easy of collection and multiple collections by untrained professionals and cost-effective advantages.
- Clinical proteomics