Fatigue biomarker index: An objective salivary measure of fatigue level

Darren J. Michael, Sheena Daugherty, Adrienne Santos, Brent C. Ruby, John E. Kalns

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Fatigue changed the composition of the small-molecular weight (sMW) proteome of saliva during a 10 h session of moderate (70% of maximum ventilatory threshold) physical exertion. Saliva samples were collected from nine recreationally trained cyclists participating in a cross-over study designed to simulate prolonged manual labor, a military operation or wildfire-suppression work. During each hour of the study, participants performed an exercise program that included upper and lower body exercises separated by short periods of recovery. Over the course of the study, fatigue level increased as suggested by a significant increase in the participants' relative perceived exertion. The composition of the sMW proteome was investigated using reversed-phase liquid chromatography with mass-spectrometric detection. Isotopes of acetic anhydride were used for mass-specific labeling of samples and subsequent identification of ions with significant changes in intensity. Cluster analysis was used to identify a pair of peptides with concentrations that changed in opposite directions with fatigue level, i.e. concentration of one peptide increased while concentration of the other decreased. The sequences of the two peptides were determined by high-resolution mass spectrometry. The ratio of the ion intensities of these two peptides, referred to as the fatigue biomarker index, was calculated for subjects throughout the study. The FBI values from the start of the study likely arose from a different distribution than the FBI values measured at the end of the study (Mann-Whitney test, P <.05). While this study is restricted to a small population of recreationally trained cyclists performing exercise under controlled conditions, it holds promise for the development of an objective salivary measurement of fatigue that is applicable to a much broader population performing in uncontrolled environments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)68-73
Number of pages6
JournalAccident Analysis and Prevention
Issue numberSUPPL.
StatePublished - Mar 2012


  • LC-MS
  • Mass spectrometry
  • Peptide
  • Proteomics
  • Saliva


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