Background: Mucositis is a painful ulcerative condition of the oral cavity and gastrointestinal tract, occurring in association with chemotherapy and radiotherapy regimes. Trefoil factor family peptides (TFF, trefoil peptides), present in saliva, contribute to epithelial restitution and repair and are therefore potentially important in the healing phase of mucositis. This study aimed to assess any changes in the levels of trefoil peptides in oncology patients with and without mucositis.
Methods: Saliva was collected from healthy children, pretreatment oncology patients, neutropenic patients on treatment with no oral disease and mucositic patients. TFF 1, 2 and 3 were quantified using ELISA.
Results: In healthy children TFF2 and 3 were positively correlated with age (rho = 0.454, p = 0.01 for TFF2; rho = 0.410, p = 0.05 for TFF3 Spearman rank correlation). TFF3 was higher in mucositis compared to all other groups. A linear regression prediction model indicated that TFF3, but not TFF1 and TFF2, was significantly different in mucositic and healthy controls, suggesting an altered pattern of trefoil peptide secretion (p = 0.021).
Conclusions: This study is the first to focus on trefoil peptides in paediatric saliva. It shows the correlation between TFF2, TFF3 and age in healthy children. Paediatric mucositis disease occurs in the presence of increased concentrations and an altered pattern of trefoil peptides.