Encyclopedia of Behavioral Medicine

Living Edition
| Editors: Marc Gellman


  • Urs M. NaterEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-6439-6_2-2


Salivary alpha-amylase (sAA) is an enzyme thought to reflect stress-related changes in the body.


Salivary measures have become increasingly important in behavioral medicine (Nater et al. 2013). Substances such as the hormone cortisol or the immune parameter salivary IgA can be measured in saliva as meaningful markers for various normal and pathological processes in the body. The salivary enzyme alpha-amylase (sAA) has been suggested to reflect stress-related changes in the body (Chatterton et al. 1996). Its secretion is elicited by activation of the autonomic nervous system (ANS) which controls the salivary glands.

Salivary alpha-amylase (α-1,4-α-d-glucan 4-glucanohydrolase; EC is one of the most important enzymes in saliva. It accounts for 40–50% of the total salivary gland-produced protein, most of the enzyme being synthesized in the parotid glands (80% of the total). It is a calcium-containing metalloenzyme that hydrolyzes the α-1,4 linkages of...

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References and Further Reading

  1. Chatterton, R. T., Jr., Vogelsong, K. M., Lu, Y. C., Ellman, A. B., & Hudgens, G. A. (1996). Salivary alpha-amylase as a measure of endogenous adrenergic activity. Clinical Physiology, 16(4), 433–448.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Ehlert, U., Erni, K., Hebisch, G., & Nater, U. (2006). Salivary alpha-amylase levels after yohimbine challenge in healthy men. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, 91(12), 5130–5133.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Linnemann, A., Strahler, J., & Nater, U. M. (2017). Assessing the effects of music listening on psychobiological stress in daily life. Journal of Visualized Experiments, (120).  https://doi.org/10.3791/54920
  4. Nater, U. M. (2018). The multidimensionality of stress and its assessment. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity 73, 159–160.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Nater, U. M., & Rohleder, N. (2009). Salivary alpha-amylase as a non-invasive biomarker for the sympathetic nervous system: Current state of research. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 34(4), 486–496.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Nater, U. M., Skoluda, N., & Strahler, J. (2013). Biomarkers of stress in behavioural medicine. Current Opinion in Psychiatry, 26(5), 440–445.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Rohleder, N., & Nater, U. M. (2009). Determinants of salivary alpha-amylase in humans and methodological considerations. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 34(4), 469–485.CrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  8. Schumacher, S., Kirschbaum, C., Fydrich, T., & Strohle, A. (2013). Is salivary alpha-amylase an indicator of autonomic nervous system dysregulations in mental disorders?–a review of preliminary findings and the interactions with cortisol. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 38(6), 729–743.CrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  9. Strahler, J., Skoluda, N., Kappert, M. B., & Nater, U. M. (2017). Simultaneous measurement of salivary cortisol and alpha-amylase: Application and recommendations. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 83, 657–677.CrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  10. van Stegeren, A., Rohleder, N., Everaerd, W., & Wolf, O. T. (2005). Salivary alpha amylase as marker for adrenergic activity during stress: Effect of betablockade. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 31, 137.CrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of ViennaViennaAustria

Section editors and affiliations

  • Urs M. Nater
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of ViennaViennaAustria