Overcoming challenges in human saliva gene expression measurements

Patrick Ostheim*, Ales Tichý, Igor Sirak, Marie Davidkova, Marketa Markova Stastna, Gabriela Kultova, Tatjana Paunesku, Gayle Woloschak, Matthaeus Majewski, Matthias Port, Michael Abend

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Saliva, as a non-invasive and easily accessible biofluid, has been shown to contain RNA biomarkers for prediction and diagnosis of several diseases. However, systematic analysis done by our group identified two problematic issues not coherently described before: (1) most of the isolated RNA originates from the oral microbiome and (2) the amount of isolated human RNA is comparatively low. The degree of bacterial contamination showed ratios up to 1:900,000, so that only about one out of 900,000 RNA copies was of human origin, but the RNA quality (average RIN 6.7 + /− 0.8) allowed for qRT-PCR. Using 12 saliva samples from healthy donors, we modified the methodology to (1) select only human RNA during cDNA synthesis by aiming at the poly(A)+-tail and (2) introduced a pre-amplification of human RNA before qRT-PCR. Further, the manufacturer’s criteria for successful pre-amplification (Ct values ≤ 35 for unamplified cDNA) had to be replaced by (3) proofing linear pre-amplification for each gene, thus, increasing the number of evaluable samples up to 70.6%. When considering theses three modifications unbiased gene expression analysis on human salivary RNA can be performed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number11147
JournalScientific reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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