Innovative saliva diagnostics across a broad range of applications

Steroid hormone assessment from saliva enables the precise identification of the biologically active or “free” fraction of target hormones. Tecan, IBL International offers highly sensitive luminescence immunoassays and ELISAs specifically developed and validated for saliva.

All about saliva

Working with saliva has several advantages: sample collection is painless, stress-free and non-invasive. Numerous specimens can be collected anywhere, at any time, with no need for the assistance of medical staff.

It is so straightforward that almost all patients, including children and the elderly, can comfortably manage it themselves. Saliva sampling can be conducted during physical exercise and rest periods, so monitoring athletes during training sessions is possible.

Tecan, IBL International has developed a special ultrapure polypropylene sampling device called SaliCap, which promises superb recovery of progesterone in the saliva.

Diffusion of free steroid hormones from blood into saliva.

Diffusion of free steroid hormones from blood into saliva. Free and protein bound steroid hormones in blood and free hormones in saliva. The concentration of free hormones is the same on both sides of the membrane. Image Credit: Tecan

Salivary diagnostics applications

Saliva is the preferred specimen across a range of traditional medical care situations and in the emerging areas of health measurement and monitoring.

With the capacity to assess a pooled saliva sample from several collections, it is possible to effectively assess hormone concentration, even in cases of marked diurnal fluctuation.

Applications include:

  • Anti-aging medicine
  • Endocrinology
  • Immunology
  • Neuroendocrinology
  • Occupational medicine
  • Oral medicine
  • Psychology
  • Research
  • Sports medicine

Steroid pathway

Innovative saliva diagnostics across a broad range of applications

Image Credit: Tecan

Proficiency testing

As the first company to integrate a quality control system for salivary steroid measurement, Tecan, IBL International is pleased to invite any laboratories working with saliva samples to participate in this free of charge service.

The intention is to provide a foundation for inter-laboratory consistency across saliva diagnostics.


Endocrinology is related to the study of hormones, the biology and medicine of the endocrine system, and its diseases and specific secretion products.

Androgen status

Free Testosterone is the perfect diagnostic tool for androgen levels in both men and women, but acquiring precise measurement of testosterone is still a challenge.

The determination of the blood testosterone concentrations in serum by traditional immunoassays tends to produce inaccurate results in men and even more so in women and children.

Measuring testosterone directly in saliva is preferred to blood measurement as only the free, biologically active fraction is represented in saliva.

The Tecan, IBL International luminescence immunoassay demonstrates high analytical and functional sensitivity and facilitates quantification of the extremely low concentrations in saliva and diluted serum.

Studies indicate that free salivary testosterone levels in morning samples match well with calculated free testosterone in blood, both in patients with androgen deficiency and healthy men.

Cushing’s syndrome

Cushing’s syndrome, for example, is a result of excessive secretion of one or all of the adrenocortical hormones, primarily cortisol. This disease is determined by failure to reach the circadian nadir in cortisol secretion late at night.

This is a complex endocrine pathology to diagnose due to the extremely common phenotype: obesity, hypertension, depression, alcoholism, etc. Furthermore, it is comparatively atypical, though becoming increasingly common.

Late-night salivary cortisol is now a recommended and well-accepted screening test for Cushing’s syndrome. This method shows high specificity and sensitivity, and ELISA or luminescence assays are very easy to handle.

The cortisol salivary luminescence assay offered by Tecan, IBL International only needs 20 μL of saliva, making it easy to use with difficult patients such as children or the elderly

Sports medicine

During physical training, fluctuating levels of various hormones relate to the intensity of exercises. It is of significant importance in sports medicine to establish that hormone levels and exercise-induced hormone changes vary from subject to subject with different types of training.

Monitoring athletes’ hormone levels during sports sessions is a key research tool for optimizing training status and establishing if excessive exercise is likely to result in overtraining syndrome.

Overtrained athletes can have varying cortisol, adrenocorticotropic hormone, testosterone and other hormone levels (Kreher et al. Sports Health 2012; 4(2): 128-138). Measurement of IgA in saliva samples will also offer an update on the athlete’s immune status.

Anti-aging medicine

Good health is contingent on a proper hormonal balance of various hormones, including cortisol, DHEA, testosterone, progesterone, estradiol and others. Consequently, the normal DHEA concentration significantly changes with age.

The lowest level of DHEA is typically seen in people over 80 years old. DHEA has been found to affect different systems of the body and have anti-aging and immune-boosting effects.

Studies show evidence of decreasing level of DHEA and increased Cortisol/DHEA ratio to be involved in the cognitive and immune decline in older people, as well as impeding their capacity to perform everyday tasks.

Higher Cortisol/DHEA ratios have been closely related to immune impairments and infection risk in older adults susceptible to chronic physical and psychological stress (Heaney et al. Psychoneuroendocrinology 2012, 37(3), 341-349).

Salivary testosterone is also a prime indicator for behavioral research studies of emotional and cognitive functions and their relationships (Ackerman et al. Psychoneuroendocrinology 2012; 37, 1417-1424). Hormone replacement therapies may easily be adjusted by evaluating salivary hormones

Psychological research is affiliated with the science of behavior and mental processes; it includes areas such as cognitive psychology, biological psychology and social psychology.

Innovative saliva diagnostics across a broad range of applications

Image Credit: According to Raff H, Pituitary 2012; 15:64-70

Sleep disorders

Sleep disorders are included in the category of occupational diseases and commonly affect shift workers leading to psychological and physical stress.

In this type of disorder, it is useful to assess individual circadian rhythms, combining measurements of melatonin and cortisol concentration: both hormones are generated in accordance with the circadian rhythm, with contrary circadian patterns.

Melatonin is the critical substance for facilitating night-time sleep; it is particularly low throughout the day and rapidly increases around 11-12 p.m. (up to ten or twenty times daytime levels). Concentrations of normal cortisol in human saliva during the day are extremely dynamic.

Cortisol usually peaks in the early morning: the timing of this cortisol peak is not reliant on clock time, nor is it conditional on daylight: it is determined by the individual’s time of waking.

Both hormones are considered to be stress indicators. Recent studies have revealed that melatonin can influence cortisol levels. These results are of practical use in the research of sleep disorders.


  • RE80111 alpha-Amylase Saliva Assay (EA)
  • RE52611, RE62111 Cortisol Saliva ELISA; Luminescence IA
  • RE52651, RE62051 DHEA Saliva ELISA; Luminescence IA
  • RE52661 DHEA-S Saliva ELISA
  • 30121045, RE62141 17beta-Estradiol Saliva ELISA; Luminescence IA
  • 30121046 Estriol high sensitive Saliva ELISA
  • DB62021 Estrone Luminescence IA
  • DM59171 IgA Saliva ELISA
  • RE54041 Melatonin direct Saliva ELISA
  • RE52271 17-OH-Progesterone Saliva ELISA
  • RE52281, RE62021 Progesterone Saliva ELISA; Luminescence IA
  • RE52631, RE62031 Testosterone Saliva ELISA; Luminescence IA


Recent stress research shows that an increasing number of people are concerned about work-related stress. This means that occupational stress is just as important as workplace accidents for companies.

The World Health Organization (WHO) describes stress as “one of the major threats of the 21st century.” For this reason, an increasing number of institutes and physicians are involved in measuring and identifying biological parameters which can uncover individuals’ psychobiological and physiological status.

Visit the Saliva Diagnostics page to find more or contact the company directly.

Stress research

Stress research in clinical psychology typically relies on questionnaires, but psychologists are persistently on the lookout for biological parameters; free salivary cortisol and DHEA are very well-documented, non-invasive markers for hypothalamus pituitary adrenal (HPA) axis activity (internal studies; Wittchen, Schönfeld et al., Int. J. Methods Psychiatr. Res. 2012; 21(2): 98-116).

Moreover, hair cortisol analysis offers a valuable and sensitive retrospective measure of cumulative cortisol secretion over extended periods of time (Stalder et al., Psychoneuroendocrinology 2012; 37, 602-610).

Salivary α-amylase is also a good marker for sympathetic nervous system activity. This parameter expresses relationships with behavior, cognitive functions, chronic stress, post-traumatic stress disorder and general health.

Typical profiles for cortisol and melatonin.

Typical profiles for cortisol and melatonin. Image Credit: Tecan


  • RE53971 Chromogranin A ELISA
  • 30147233 Interleukin-10 (IL-10) ELISA, RUO
  • BE58101 Interleukin-10 high sensitivity ELISA, RUO
  • 30150433 Interleukin-1 alpha (IL-1a) ELISA, RUO
  • 30149807 Interleukin-2 (IL-2) ELISA, RUO
  • BE58021 Interleukin-2 high sensitivity ELISA, RUO
  • 30147231 Interleulin-6 (IL-6) ELISA, RUO
  • BE58061 Interleukin-6 high sensitivity ELISA, RUO
  • RE53171 Insulin ELISA
  • 30147243 MMP-9 ELISA, RUO
  • RE59321 Neopterin ELISA
  • RE53141 Osteocalcin ELISA
  • BE55041 TGF-beta1 ELISA, RUO
  • 30147293 TNF-alpha (TNF-α) ELISA, RUO

About Tecan

Tecan is a leading global provider of automated laboratory instruments and solutions. Their systems and components help people working in clinical diagnostics, basic and translational research and drug discovery bring their science to life.

In particular, they develop, produce, market and support automated workflow solutions that empower laboratories to achieve more. Their Cavro branded instrument components are chosen by leading instrumentation suppliers across multiple disciplines.

They work side by side with a range of clients, including diagnostic laboratories, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies and university research centers. Their expertise extends to developing and manufacturing OEM instruments and components, marketed by their partner companies. Whatever the project – large or small, simple or complex – helping their clients to achieve their goals comes first.

They hold a leading position in all the sectors they work in and have changed the way things are done in research and development labs around the world. In diagnostics, for instance, they have raised the bar when it comes to the reproducibility and throughput of testing.

In under four decades Tecan has grown from a Swiss family business to a brand that is well established on the global stage of life sciences. From pioneering days on a farm to the leading role our business assumes today – empowering research, diagnostics and many applied markets around the world

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Last updated: Feb 3, 2022 at 6:26 AM


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