In research results presented at the annual meeting of the American Physiological Society, scientists said they can collect saliva without harm or discomfort for most patients, which can reveal patient responses to Covid-19 and potentially guide care.
Ephrins are detectable in saliva samples and could serve as adjunct markers to monitor Covid-19 disease progression, said study author Erika Egal, DVM, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Patrice Mimche, PhD, in the Department of Pathology at University of Utah Health in Salt Lake City.
For the study, researchers analyzed saliva samples collected from patients admitted to the University of Utah Hospital emergency department with respiratory symptoms. Sixty-seven of the patients tested positive for Covid-19 while 64 patients did not. They found that the presence of ephrin ligands in saliva was strongly associated with the diagnosis of severe Covid-19.
Previous studies suggest ephrins play a role in injury and inflammation. The scientists say more research is needed to determine whether ephrin concentrations are linked with a higher likelihood of hospitalization, critical illness or death.
In addition, as new viral variants emerge, it can be difficult to tell whether existing COVID-19 tests are able to accurately detect infections involving new variants.
“Saliva is packed with information beyond detecting the COVID-19 infection itself,” said Mimche. “We demonstrate that immune cells, cytokines and soluble proteins can be reliably measured from saliva samples.