FRIDAY, June 14 (HealthDay News) -- Certain proteins in saliva help protect seniors from influenza, according to a new study from China.
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As well as beginning the process of digesting foods, saliva also contains germ-fighting proteins that form a first-line defense against infections. It was already known that a person's age affects their saliva's levels of certain glycoproteins, which are proteins with a sugar coating that combat disease-causing germs.
In this study, investigators sought to learn more about how age-related differences in these saliva proteins affect people's susceptibility to influenza.
The researchers analyzed saliva samples from 180 men and women of various ages and found that glycoproteins in the saliva of people aged 65 and older were more efficient in binding to influenza viruses than those in children and young adults.
The study was published recently in the Journal of Proteome Research.
The researchers said their findings suggest that saliva testing may help improve understanding, prevention and diagnosis of some age-related diseases.
-- Robert Preidt
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SOURCE: Journal of Proteome Research, news release, June 12, 2013
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