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Excess iodine exposure acutely increases salivary iodide and antimicrobial hypoiodous acid concentrations in humans.


The lactoperoxidase (LPO)-hydrogen peroxide-halides reaction (LPO system) converts iodide and thiocyanate (SCN-) into hypoiodous acid (HOI) and hypothiocyanite (OSCN-), respectively. Since this system has been implicated in defense of the airways and oropharynx from microbial invasion, in this proof-of-concept study we measured the concentrations of these analytes in human saliva from a convenience clinical sample of 40 qualifying subjects before and after acute iodine administration via the iodinated contrast medium used in coronary angiography to test the hypothesis that an iodide load increases salivary iodide and HOI concentrations. Saliva was collected and salivary iodide, SCN-, HOI and OSCN- were measured using standard methodology. The large iodine load delivered by the angiographic dye, several 100-fold in excess of the U.S. Recommended Daily Allowance for iodine (150 µg/day), significantly increased salivary iodide and HOI levels compared with baseline levels, whereas there was no significant change in salivary SCN- and OSCN- levels. Iodine load and changes of salivary iodide and HOI levels were positively correlated, suggesting that higher iodide in the circulation increases iodide output and salivary HOI production. This first of its kind study suggests that a sufficient but safe iodide supplementation less than the Tolerable Upper Limit for iodine set by the U.S. Institute of Medicine (1,100 µg/day) may augment the generation of antimicrobial HOI by the salivary LPO system in concentrations sufficient to at least in theory protect the host against susceptible airborne microbial pathogens, including enveloped viruses such as coronaviruses and influenza viruses.

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