-- Robert Preidt
FRIDAY, June 14 (HealthDay News) -- Certain proteins in saliva
help protect seniors from influenza, according to a new study from
The findings improve understanding of why older people are
better able to fight off the new strains of bird and swine flu than
younger people, said researcher Zheng Li and colleagues.
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
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
The U.S. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion
explains how to
protect yourself from seasonal flu.
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