Unstimulated Salivary Flow Rates in Patients with Hepatitis B Virus Infection: A Case-Control Study

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Objective: Salivary dysfunction is one of the extrahepatic manifestations of hepatitis B virus infection. Although the pathophysiology is not fully understood, it has been linked with immune complex sequelae and liver dysfunction. Unstimulated salivary flow rate is an accurate measure of salivary gland functionality. The objective of the study was to determine the association between hepatitis B virus infection and salivary flow rates.

Methods: This case-control study included 76 patients diagnosed with hepatitis B virus infection and 48 control participants. Socio-demographics and times of diagnosis for the case group were obtained using a standardized questionnaire and with the aid of patients’ records. The unstimulated salivary flow rate was determined for all participants using the suction method and recorded as volume per time (mls/min). Data was presented using frequencies and proportions, with statistical significance set at p<0.05 while the 95% confidence level was used to construct confidence intervals around estimates.

Results: There was no significant difference between the distribution of ages and gender of participants in both groups. The average salivary flow rate of the cases was 0.12mls/min, and was significantly lower (p=0.000) than the control group with a mean value 0.48mls/min. The distribution of salivary flow rate differed significantly across the duration of initial diagnosis (p = 0.007).

Conclusion: The present study shows a substantial association between hepatitis B virus infection and salivary gland hypofunction, and there appears to be a correlation of the hypofunction with the chronicity of the disease.

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