Int J Biol Sci 2018; 14(6):633-643. doi:10.7150/ijbs.25018 This issue


Salivary Exosomes: Emerging Roles in Systemic Disease

Yineng Han1, Lingfei Jia2,3, Yunfei Zheng1✉, Weiran Li1✉

1. Department of Orthodontics, Peking University School and Hospital of Stomatology, Beijing,100081, China
2. Central Laboratory, Peking University School and Hospital of Stomatology, Beijing, 100081, China
3. Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Peking University School and Hospital of Stomatology, Beijing 100081, China

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Han Y, Jia L, Zheng Y, Li W. Salivary Exosomes: Emerging Roles in Systemic Disease. Int J Biol Sci 2018; 14(6):633-643. doi:10.7150/ijbs.25018. Available from

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Graphic abstract

Saliva, which contains biological information, is considered a valuable diagnostic tool for local and systemic diseases and conditions because, similar to blood, it contains important molecules like DNA, RNA, and proteins. Exosomes are cell-derived vesicles 30-100 nm in diameter with substantial biological functions, including intracellular communication and signalling. These vesicles, which are present in bodily fluids, including saliva, are released upon fusion of multivesicular bodies (MVBs) with the cellular plasma membrane. Salivary diagnosis has notable advantages, which include noninvasiveness, ease of collection, absence of coagulation, and a similar content as plasma, as well as increased patient compliance compared to other diagnostic approaches. However, investigation of the roles of salivary exosomes is still in its early years. In this review, we first describe the characteristics of endocytosis and secretion of salivary exosomes, as well as database and bioinformatics analysis of exosomes. Then, we describe strategies for the isolation of exosomes from human saliva and the emerging role of salivary exosomes as potential biomarkers of oral and other systemic diseases. Given the ever-growing role of salivary exosomes, defining their functions and understanding their specific mechanisms will provide novel insights into possible applications of salivary exosomes in the diagnosis and treatment of systemic diseases.

Keywords: saliva, exosome, biomarker, proteomics, genomics