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Promotion of Saliva Secretion from Submandibular-sublingual Glands by Carbonic Acid Shows High Anti-influenza Activity

Health and Wellness

Seasonal influenza continues to occur and the number of affected individuals does not seem to decrease. Kao is focusing on biological barriers that are inherent in humans and working to develop safe preventive technologies for upper respiratory tract infections, such as influenza and colds, that can be used in everyday life. One area of investigation is the function of saliva, 1 to 1.5 liters of which is secreted daily by healthy individuals. Saliva has been reported to have antibacterial and antiviral, as well as digestive, cleansing, and masticatory assisting effects.
From basic research conducted thus far, Kao has shown that the amount of protein-bound sialic acid (BSA) contained in human saliva is important for its anti-influenza virus effect. Furthermore, it has been confirmed that BSA is secreted more from the submandibular and sublingual glands (SMSL grands) (Fig. 1) than from the parotid gland *1. Based on this finding, it was considered that promotion of saliva secretion from the SMSL glands would be effective for preventing influenza infection.


Figure 1. Human salivary glands

In a search for a method to cause secretion of saliva from the SMSL glands, carbonic effervescence was shown to cause foam to form in the oral cavity, which then generated carbonic acid and significantly promoted saliva secretion (Fig. 2). Our findings indicated carbonic effervescence to be an excellent method for selectively inducing secretion of saliva from the SMSL glands (Fig. 3) *2 .
Based on these research and development results, Kao aims to propose new habits for prevention that can be easily and comfortably implemented in daily life, in addition to vaccination, hand washing, and mask usage.

  • * 1 Kao Corporation, 52nd Annual Meeting of Japanese Respiratory Society
    Elucidation of factors of salivary anti-influenza virus activity and control by carbonic acid effervescence stimulation
  • * 2 Journal of Functional Foods 74 (2020) 104173


Figure 2. Saliva production


Figure 3. Percentage of saliva from SMSL glands in total secreted saliva

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