P.A.M. van den Keijbus
- MUC5B levels in submandibular gland saliva of patients treated with radiotherapy for head-and-neck cancer: a pilot study
- Radiation Oncology
- Volume | Issue number
- 7 | 1
- Article number
- Number of pages
- Document type
- Faculty of Dentistry (ACTA)
The salivary mucin MUC5B, present in (sero)mucous secretions including submandibular gland (SMG) saliva, plays an important role in the lubrication of the oral mucosa and is thought to be related to the feeling of dry mouth. We investigated if MUC5B levels in SMG saliva could distinguish between the presence or absence of severe dry mouth complaints 12 months after radiotherapy (RT) for head-and-neck cancer (HNC).
Twenty-nine HNC patients with a residual stimulated SMG secretion rate of ≥0.2 ml/10 min at 12 months after RT were analyzed. MUC5B (in U; normalized to 1) and total protein levels (mg/ml) were measured in SMG saliva at baseline and 12 months after RT using ELISA and BCA protein assay, respectively. Overall, median MUC5B levels decreased after RT from 0.12 to 0.03 U (p = 0.47). Patients were dichotomized into none/mild xerostomia (n = 12) and severe xerostomia (n = 17) based on a questionnaire completed at 12 months. SMG and whole saliva flow rates decreased after RT but were comparable in both groups. The median MUC5B level was higher in patients with no or mild xerostomia compared to patients with severe xerostomia (0.14 vs 0.01 U, p = 0.22). Half of the patients with severe xerostomia had no detectable MUC5B at 12 months after RT. No differences in total protein levels were observed.
Qualitative saliva parameters like MUC5B need further investigation in RT-induced xerostomia. This pilot study showed a trend towards lower MUC5B levels in the SMG saliva of patients with severe xerostomia 12 months after RT for HNC.
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