This study investigated the potential of salivary bacterial and protein markers for evaluating the disease status in healthy individuals or patients with gingivitis or caries. Saliva samples from caries-and gingivitis-free individuals (n = 18), patients with gingivitis (n = 17), or patients with deep caries lesions (n = 38) were collected and analyzed for 44 candidate biomarkers (cytokines, chemokines, growth factors, matrix metalloproteinases, a metallopeptidase inhibitor, proteolytic enzymes, and selected oral bacteria). The resulting data were subjected to principal component analysis and used as a training set for random forest (RF) modeling. This computational analysis revealed four biomarkers (IL-4, IL-13, IL-2-RA, and eotaxin/CCL11) to be of high importance for the correct depiction of caries in 37 of 38 patients. The RF model was then used to classify 10 subjects (five caries-/gingivitis-free and five with caries), who were followed over a period of six months. The results were compared to the clinical assessments of dental specialists, revealing a high correlation between the RF prediction and the clinical classification. Due to the superior sensitivity of the RF model, there was a divergence in the prediction of two caries and four caries-/gingivitis-free subjects. These findings suggest IL-4, IL-13, IL-2-RA, and eotaxin/CCL11 as potential salivary biomarkers for identifying noninvasive caries. Furthermore, we suggest a potential association between JAK/STAT signaling and dental caries onset and progression.
Bibliographical noteFunding: This research was funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program, grant number 633780 (“DIAGORAS” project).
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