The aim of this study was to estimate the accuracy and reproducibility of citric-acid-stimulated parotid saliva sampling. In healthy volunteers a strong correlation (r2 = 0.79) between flow rates from the left and right parotid gland was observed. In patients with Sjogren's syndrome this correlation (r2 = 0.90) was even stronger. The intraindividual variation in healthy volunteers was 23.3 +/- 5.9%. Increasing the number of collections did not reduce this variation significantly. In head and neck cancer patients, to estimate whether repeated measurements result in more reliable baseline values for use in clinical studies, repeated collections did not result in a significant reduction of intrapatient variation, similar to the results with the healthy volunteers. Thus, notwithstanding the good agreement between left and right flow rates, a high variation in parotid flow rates has to be considered when planning clinical trials evaluating the effects of treatment on salivary gland functioning.
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