OBJECTIVES: Exercise is known to cause changes in the concentration of salivary components such as amylase, Na, and Cl. The aim of this investigation was to evaluate the effect of physical exercise on the levels of trace elements and electrolytes in whole (mixed) saliva. METHODS: Forty subjects performed a maximal exercise test on a cycle ergometer. Samples of saliva were obtained before and immediately after the exercise test. Sample concentrations of Fe, Mg, Sc, Cr, Mn, Co, Cu, Zn, Se, Sr, Ag, Sb, Cs, and Hg were determined by inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry and concentrations of Ca and Na by atomic absorption spectrometry. RESULTS: After exercise, Mg and Na levels showed a significant increase (p < 0.05) while Mn levels fell (p < 0.05). Zn/Cu molar ratios were unaffected by exercise. CONCLUSIONS: Intense physical exercise induced changes in the concentrations of only three (Na, Mg, and Mn) of the 16 elements analysed in the saliva samples. Further research is needed to assess the clinical implications of these findings.
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