Identifying straining stress is an important basis for treating and preventing many diseases. The quantification of biological stress markers presents a safe and efficient possibility to evaluate the effects of stressors, independently of their underlying cause.
In humans, secretory alpha amylase (sAA) is produced in the salivary glands and secreted into the saliva. There, it splits storage carbohydrates such as plant starch and animal glycogen into short-chained sugar molecules. Secretion of alpha amylase into saliva is strongly associated with the activity of the vegetative (sympathetic and parasympathetic) nervous system.
The concentration of alpha amylase in saliva correlates with psychosocial stress and the titer of secretory IgA (sIgA), but not with other stress markers such as cortisol and noradrenaline. Concentration measurement of the sAA titer in bucal saliva yields information on the stress burden of a patient. The effectiveness of psychotherapeutic stress therapy and drug treatment of autonomic stress responses can be monitored by investigation of the sAA titer.
In conjunction with determination of sIgA and cortisol, the determination of sAA allows estimation of the degree of the individual physiopathological effect of stress (stress reactivity).