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

Alexander Gardner, Harold G Parkes, Guy H Carpenter, Po-Wah So

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Citations (Scopus)


Metabolic profiling by 1H 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 1H 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 1H 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 750 g to 15 000 g. Quantification of salivary metabolites was similar whether quantified using internal phosphate-buffered sodium trimethylsilyl-[2,2,3,3-2H4]-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 1H 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
Publication statusPublished - 6 Apr 2018


  • Buffers
  • Centrifugation
  • Freezing
  • Humans
  • Metabolome
  • Metabolomics
  • Proton Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy/methods
  • Reference Standards
  • Research Design/standards
  • Saliva/chemistry
  • Specimen Handling/methods
  • Trimethylsilyl Compounds


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