Substances in Spit May Help Wounds Heal Faster

Substances in Spit May Help Wounds Heal Faster Interview with:
Vicente A. Torres PhD

Associate Professor
Institute for Research in Dental Sciences
Faculty of Dentistry
Universidad de Chile What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Wounds in the oral cavity heal faster and more efficiently than skin. This is in part due to saliva. However, the reasons underlying these differences remain poorly known. Since blood vessel formation (i.e. angiogenesis) is critical to the success and efficiency of wound healing, we focused our studies on the effects of saliva, and specifically the salivary molecule, histatin-1, on angiogenesis.

Our studies showed that histatin-1 promotes angiogenesis, as observed in experiments performed at three “levels”:

1) using human cell cultures (endothelial cells, which are cells that form blood vessels),

(2) using chicken embryos, as animal models, and

(3) analyzing saliva samples obtained from healthy donors.

With all these models, histatin-1 and saliva were found to increase blood vessel formation. In addition, our studies provide information about the molecular mechanisms (i.e. signaling pathways) whereby endothelial cells respond towards histatin-1, by increasing their migration and adhesion to the extracellular matrix. What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Response:  These findings open new alternatives to better understand the biology underlying the differences between oral and skin wound healing. This is important, since researchers are currently using these molecules (the histatins), in order to generate materials and implants that aid with both, wound healing and providing with antimicrobial properties. It could also be envisioned that future studies will help in the design of better approaches to improve angiogenesis and hence wound healing in tissues other than the mouth. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: Saliva is source of a plethora of factors, many of them yet to be characterized, with the ability to improve the different phases involved in the wound healing process. Hence, research in this field is exciting and demanding, in order to provide with a better understanding of the differences between oral wound healing and tissues other than the oral mucosa. Thank you for your contribution to the community.


Pedro Torres, Jorge Díaz, Maximiliano Arce, Patricio Silva, Pablo Mendoza, Pablo Lois, Alfredo Molina-Berríos, Gareth I. Owen, Verónica Palma, Vicente A. Torres. The salivary peptide histatin-1 promotes endothelial cell adhesion, migration, and angiogenesis. The FASEB Journal, 2017; fj.201700085R DOI: 1096/fj.201700085R

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.


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Last Updated on August 9, 2017 by Marie Benz MD FAAD