Faculty and Research

Diabetes and Salivary Gland Function

Dr. Leigh Anderson

Saliva plays an important role in the protection of the oral cavity, and alterations in salivary flow or composition are known to have dramatic effects on oral health. Although there is some divergence of opinion in the literature as to the extent of the changes in salivary gland function in human diabetes, recent cross-sectional and longitudinal studies confirm the presence of salivary hypofunction in these patients.

It is also clear from experimental studies that insulin and insulin insufficiency have both direct and indirect effects on salivary gland structure and function. Thus, we are carrying out studies in our laboratory to enhance our understanding of the effects of diabetes on salivary gland function.

While most experimental studies have used models of insulin-dependent diabetes (IDDM, Type 1 diabetes), such as the STZ-diabetic rat, non-insulin-dependent diabetes (NIDDM, Type 2 diabetes) accounts for more than 90% of the disease seen in patient populations. Because the pathophysiology of diabetes in NIDDM may differ significantly from that in IDDM, we are comparing and effects of insulin insufficiency and hyperglycemia (IDDM) with those of hyperglycemia in the presence of insulin resistance (NIDDM) on secretory function in the rat submandibular gland.

Dr. Leigh Anderson, landerso@pacific.edu, 415.929.6413