Clinical Oral Investigations

, Volume 19, Issue 8, pp 2147–2152 | Cite as

Salivary mucin MUC7 oligosaccharides in patients with recurrent aphthous stomatitis

  • Mikael Zad
  • Sarah A. Flowers
  • Maria Bankvall
  • Mats Jontell
  • Niclas G. KarlssonEmail author
Short Communication



The aetiology of recurrent aphthous stomatitis remains unknown. In this study, we investigate the composition of oligosaccharides from mucin MUC7 in recurrent aphthous stomatitis as these heavily O-glycosylated mucins confer many of saliva’s protective properties such as defence against mucosal pathogens.

Materials and methods

Unstimulated whole saliva samples were collected from six individuals, three with recurrent aphthous stomatitis and three corresponding sibling, without this condition. Oligosaccharides from salivary MUC7 were isolated and analysed by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry.


The types of oligosaccharides identified in the patients and control subjects were similar; however, statistical evaluation indicated semi-quantitative differences between specific oligosaccharide classes. These changes focused on a reduction in terminal glycan residues including fucosylation, sialylation and sulfation on galactose.


This study was able to show differential MUC7 glycosylation in the patients suggesting functional changes to salivary mucins in this condition. The terminal glycans altered in disease have been shown to be important for a range of immunological and bacterial binding roles. Further investigation of these epitopes in a larger study may provide critical insights into the pathology of recurrent aphthous stomatitis.

Clinical relevance

MUC7 glycosylation is altered in recurrent aphthous stomatitis. This may change the protective properties of this mucin against mucosal pathogens, which may effect this condition.


Oral mucosa Mucin layer Glycan Saliva Aphthous ulcers 



Members in the Glycoinflammatory Group from the Department of Medical Biochemistry at the University of Gothenburg are thanked; Barbara Adamczyk is thanked for providing the practical guidance, Liaqat Ali for the theoretical aid and Dr Chunsheng Jin for the instrumental support. This work was supported by a grant from the Swedish research council 2010-5322 to NK. The mass spectrometer was obtained by a grant from the Swedish Research Council (342-2004-4434).

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mikael Zad
    • 1
  • Sarah A. Flowers
    • 1
  • Maria Bankvall
    • 2
  • Mats Jontell
    • 2
  • Niclas G. Karlsson
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Medical Biochemistry and Cell Biology, Institute of Biomedicine, Sahlgrenska AcademyUniversity of GothenburgGothenburgSweden
  2. 2.Department of Oral Medicine and Pathology, Institute of Odontology, Sahlgrenska AcademyUniversity of GothenburgGothenburgSweden

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