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1.  Rituximab Therapy for Primary Sjögren’s Syndrome: An Open-Label Clinical Trial and Mechanistic Analysis 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2013;65(4):1097-1106.
Objective
To study the safety and clinical efficacy of rituximab therapy for primary Sjögren’s syndrome, as well as investigate its mechanisms.
Methods
Patients with primary Sjögren’s syndrome were enrolled in an open-label trial and received rituximab (1 g) on days 1 and 15 and followed through week 52. The primary endpoint was safety, with secondary endpoints evaluating clinical and biologic efficacy. Blood was obtained for enumeration of lymphocyte subsets, measurement of serum autoantibodies and BAFF levels, and analysis of gene expression.
Results
Twelve female subjects with primary Sjögren’s syndrome were administered rituximab. They had a median (range) age of 51 (34–69) years and a median (range) disease duration of 8.0 (2–18) years. We observed no unexpected toxicities from rituximab therapy. Modest improvements were observed at week 26 in patient-reported symptoms of fatigue and oral dryness, with no significant improvement in the objective measures of lacrimal and salivary gland function. The recovery of blood B cells following the nadir from rituximab therapy was characterized by a predominance of transitional B cells and a lack of memory B cells. While blood B cell depletion was associated with an increase in serum BAFF levels, no significant changes were observed in the levels of serum anti-Ro/SSA, anti-La/SSB, and anti-muscarinic receptor 3 autoantibodies or in the blood IFN signature.
Conclusion
In primary Sjögren’s syndrome, a single treatment course of rituximab was not associated with any unexpected toxicities and led to only modest clinical benefits despite effective depletion of blood B cells.
doi:10.1002/art.37850
PMCID: PMC3618621  PMID: 23334994
2.  Lower frequency of focal lip sialadenitis (focus score) in smoking patients. Can tobacco diminish the salivary gland involvement as judged by histological examination and anti-SSA/Ro and anti-SSB/La antibodies in Sjögren's syndrome? 
OBJECTIVES—Prospectively collected computer database information was previously assessed on a cohort of 300 patients who fulfilled the Copenhagen classification criteria for primary Sjögren's syndrome. Analysis of the clinical data showed that patients who smoked had a decreased lower lip salivary gland focus score (p<0.05). The aim of this original report is to describe the tobacco habits in patients with primary Sjögren's syndrome or stomatitis sicca only and to determine if there is a correlation between smoking habits and focus score in lower lip biopsies as well as ciculating autoantibodies and IgG.
METHODS—All living patients with primary Sjögren's syndrome or stomatitis sicca only, who were still in contact with the Sjögren's Syndrome Research Centre were asked to fill in a detailed questionnaire concerning present and past smoking habits, which was compared with smoking habits in a sex and age matched control group (n=3700) from the general population. In addition, the patients previous lower lip biopsies were blindly re-evaluated and divided by the presence of focus score (focus score = number of lymphocyte foci per 4 mm2 glandular tissue) into those being normal (focus score ≤ 1) or abnormal (focus score > 1). Furthermore the cohort was divided into three groups; 10-45, 46-60 and ⩾ 61 years of age. Finally the focus score was related to the smoking habits. Seroimmunological (ANA; anti-SSA/Ro antibodies; anti-SSB/La antibodies; IgM-RF and IgG) samples were analysed routinely.
RESULTS—The questionnaire was answered by 98% (n=355) of the cohort and the percentage of current smokers, former smokers and historical non-smokers at the time of lower lip biopsy was not statistically different from that of the control group. Cigarette smoking at the time of lower lip biopsy is associated with lower risk of abnormal focus score (p<0.001; odds ratio 0.29, 95%CI 0.16 to 0.50). The odds ratio for having focal sialadenitis (focus score > 1) compared with having a non-focal sialadenitis or normal biopsy (focus score ⩽ 1) was decreased in all three age groups (10-45: odds ratio 0.27, 95%CI 0.11 to 0.71; 46-60: odds ratio 0.22, 95%CI 0.08 to 0.59; and ⩾ 61: odds ratio 0.36, 95%CI 0.10 to 1.43) although there was only statistical significance in the two younger age groups. Moreover, among current smokers at the time of the lower lip biopsy there was a decreasing odds ratio for an abnormal lip focus score with increasing number of cigarettes smoked per week (p trend 0.00). In the group of former smokers, which included patients that had stopped smoking up to 30 years ago, the results were in between those of the smokers and the historical non-smokers (odds ratio 0.57, 95%CI 0.34 to 0.97, compared with never smokers). Present or past smoking did not correlate with the function of the salivary glands as judged by unstimulated whole sialometry, stimulated whole sialometry or salivary gland scintigraphy. Among former smokers, the median time lapse between the first symptom of primary Sjögren's syndrome and the performance of the lower lip biopsy was approximately half as long as the median time lapse between smoking cessation and biopsy (8 versus 15 years). Hence, symptoms of Sjögren's syndrome are unlikely to have had a significant influence on smoking habits at the time of the biopsy. Among the seroimmunological results only anti-SSA/Ro and anti-SSB/La antibodies reached statistical significance in a manner similar to the way smoking influenced the focus score in lower lip biopsies. On the other hand the level of significance was consistently more pronounced for the influence of smoking on the focus score than for the influence on anti-SSA/Ro and anti-SSB/La autoantibodies.
CONCLUSION—This is believed to be the first report showing that cigarette smoking is negatively associated with focal sialadenitis—focus score >1—in lower lip biopsy in patients with primary Sjögren's syndrome. Furthermore, tobacco seems to decrease the focus score in a dose dependent manner. Smoking may also negatively influence the presence of anti-SSA/Ro and/or anti-SSB/La antibodies in circulating blood. Thus, smoking habits of patients might invalidate the use of both lower lip salivary gland focus score and of anti-SSA/anti-SSB antibodies. It is suggested that the simultaneous performance of other objective tests is required to avoid misdiagnosis of oral involvement in smoking and former smoking patients. Therefore, classification criteria for Sjögren's syndrome that more or less rely on an abnormal focus score and/or presence of anti-SSA/anti-SSB antibodies should be used with great caution.


doi:10.1136/ard.59.1.54
PMCID: PMC1752994  PMID: 10627428
3.  Matriptase Deletion Initiates a Sjögren’s Syndrome-Like Disease in Mice 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e82852.
Objective
The objective of this study was to determine the effect of epithelial barrier disruption, caused by deficiency of the membrane-anchored serine protease, matriptase, on salivary gland function and the induction of autoimmunity in an animal model.
Methods
Embryonic and acute ablation of matriptase expression in the salivary glands of mice was induced, leading to decreased epithelial barrier function. Mice were characterized for secretory epithelial function and the induction of autoimmunity including salivary and lacrimal gland dysfunction, lymphocytic infiltration, serum anti-Ro/SSA, anti-La/SSB and antinuclear antibodies. Salivary glands immune activation/regulation, barrier function as well as tight junction proteins expression also were determined. Expression of matriptase in minor salivary gland biopsies was compared among pSS patients and healthy volunteers.
Results
Embryonic ablation of matriptase expression in mice resulted in the loss of secretory epithelial cell function and the induction of autoimmunity similar to that observed in primary Sjögren’s syndrome. Phenotypic changes included exocrine gland dysfunction, lymphocytic infiltrates, production of Sjögren’s syndrome-specific autoantibodies, and overall activation of the immune system. Acute ablation of matriptase expression resulted in significant salivary gland dysfunction in the absence of overt immune activation. Analysis of the salivary glands indicates a loss of electrical potential across the epithelial layer as well as altered distribution of a tight junction protein. Moreover, a significant decrease in matriptase gene expression was detected in the minor salivary glands of pSS patients compared with healthy volunteers.
Conclusions
Our findings demonstrate that local impairment of epithelial barrier function can lead to loss of exocrine gland dysfunction in the absence of inflammation while systemic deletion can induce a primary Sjögren’s syndrome like phenotype with autoimmunity and loss of gland function.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0082852
PMCID: PMC3923742  PMID: 24551030
4.  Clinical, immunological, and immunogenetic aspects of autoantibody production against Ro/SSA, La/SSB and their linear epitopes in primary Sjögren's syndrome (pSS): a European multicentre study 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2002;61(5):398-404.
Objectives: To investigate the clinical and immunogenetic aspects of antibody formation against Ro/SSA and La/SSB as well as their linear B cell epitopes in patients with primary Sjögren's syndrome (pSS) from different European countries.
Patients and methods: Ninety patients with pSS from six European centres were studied. Serum samples from all patients were tested in a control laboratory for anti-Ro/SSA and anti-La/SSB autoantibodies by RNA precipitation assay and autoantibodies to the previously reported B cell linear epitopes of Ro 60 kDa (p169–190aa and p211–232aa) and La/SSB (p147–154aa, p291–302aa, p301–318aa, and p349–364aa). DNA from 88 patients was used for the determination of HLA-DRB1, -DQA1, and -DQB1 genotypes. Analysis of the results was performed in the 88 patients who were genotyped and tested also for antipeptide antibodies.
Results: Antibodies to B cell epitopes of Ro 60 kDa were detected at a low frequency (range 10–37%). In contrast, B cell epitopes of La/SSB were detected frequently (range 58–86%) among the anti-La/SSB positive sera. Autoantibodies to the La/SSB epitope, p349–364aa, were significantly positively associated with longer disease duration (p<0.05), recurrent or permanent parotid gland enlargement (p<0.005), and a higher proportion of non-exocrine manifestations (p<0.005), compared with patients without autoantibodies. The presence of anti-Ro/SSA and anti-La/SSB autoantibodies was significantly associated with the presence of HLA-DRB1*03 and DQB1*02 (p=0.038 and p=0.034, respectively). This association was even more prominent and extended to HLA-DQA1*0501 when patients were stratified according the presence of autoantibodies to discrete La/SSB B cell epitopes in comparison with autoantibody negative patients (p<0.01). They were found also to be highly associated with the alleles HLA-DQB1*02 and HLA-DQA1*0501 as well as the presence of a shared amino acid motif in the region 59–69aa of DQB1 first domain (p<0.01, respectively).
Conclusions: Autoantibodies against La/SSB, binding to four synthetic peptides, derived from the sequence of the La protein were identified with increased frequency in sera of patients with pSS. The formation of autoantibodies against B cell epitope analogues of La/SSB in European patients with pSS may be dependent on the presence of a permissive HLA-DQ heterodimer, most prominently represented by the HLA-DQA1*0501/DQB1*0201 heterodimer, suggesting that a model of HLA restricted presentation of La/SSB peptide determinants is crucial for the autoimmune response against La/SSB.
doi:10.1136/ard.61.5.398
PMCID: PMC1754090  PMID: 11959762
5.  Anti-Ro/SSA and anti-La/SSB autoantibodies in the tear fluid of patients with Sjögren’s syndrome 
Purpose: To investigate the presence of anti-Ro/SSA and anti-La/SSB antibodies in the tear fluid and serum of patients with Sjögren’s syndrome and to evaluate the association of these autoantibodies with the severity of keratoconjunctivitis sicca.
Methods: Tear fluid and serum were obtained from 28 patients with Sjögren’s syndrome and 17 age matched normal control subjects. Evaluation of tear fluid and sera anti-Ro/SSA and anti-La/SSB levels was done by using a quantitative enzyme linked immunosorbent assay kit designed for the quantitative measurement of IgG class autoantibodies directed against highly purified SSA and SSB antigens. Tear function and ocular surface were evaluated by Schirmer I test, tear break up time, and rose bengal staining. Dry eye symptom scores were recorded.
Results: Increased levels of anti-Ro/SSA and anti-La/SSB antibodies were detected in sera of 57.1% and 50% of SS patients, respectively. Six patients had increased levels of anti-Ro/SSA in the tear fluid, in one case anti-Ro/SSA being detected in tear fluid when it was negative in serum. Ten patients had positive anti-La/SSB titres in tear fluid and in four of these patients, anti-La/SSB titres were not elevated in serum. A positive correlation was observed between serum and tear fluid titres of anti-Ro/SSA (r = 0.43, p = 0.02), but not of anti-La/SSB. Serum anti-Ro/SSA and anti-La/SSB concentrations correlated positively with dry eye symptom scores (r = 0.42, p = 0.02 and r = 0.48, p = 0.01, respectively) and negatively correlated with Schirmer I test scores (r = −0.39, p = 0.04 and r = −0.40, p = 0.03, respectively). Significant correlations were found between tear anti-La/SSB concentrations and dry eye symptom score (r = 0.56, p = 0.02) and also rose bengal staining scores of the ocular surface (r = 0.44, p = 0.02).
Conclusion: This study shows that autoantibodies against Ro/SSA and La/SSB antigens are present in the tear fluid of some patients with SS and their presence in serum or tear fluid is associated with the severity of keratoconjunctivitis sicca. Additional measurement of tear fluid levels of anti-Ro/SSA and anti-La/SSB may serve as a valuable diagnostic indicator of SS.
doi:10.1136/bjo.2003.028340
PMCID: PMC1772044  PMID: 14977774
Sjögren’s syndrome; anti-Ro/SSA; anti-La/SSB autoantibodies; tear fluid; keratoconjunctivitis sicca
6.  Frequency of Autoantibodies and Connective Tissue Diseases in Chinese Patients with Optic Neuritis 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(6):e99323.
Background
Optic neuritis (ON) is often associated with other clinical or serological markers of connective tissue diseases (CTDs). To date, the effects of autoantibodies on ON are not clear.
Purpose
To assess the prevalence, clinical patterns, and short outcomes of autoantibodies and Sjögren’s syndrome (SS) involvement in Chinese ON patients and evaluate the relationship between ON, including their subtypes, and autoantibodies.
Methods
A total of 190 ON patients were divided into recurrent ON (RON), bilateral ON (BON), and isolated monocular ON (ION). Demographic, clinical, and serum autoantibodies data were compared between them with and without SS involvement. Serum was drawn for antinuclear antibody (ANA), extractable nuclear antigen antibodies (SSA/SSB), rheumatoid factor (RF), anticardiolipin antibodies (ACA), and anti-double-stranded DNA antibody (A-ds DNA), anticardiolipin antibody (ACLs), anti-β2-glycoprotein I (β2-GPI) and Aquaporin-4 antibodies (AQP4-Ab). Spectral-domain optical coherence tomography (SD-OCT) was used to evaluate the atrophy of the optic nerve.
Results
68 patients (35.79%) had abnormal autoantibodies, 26(13.68%) patients met diagnostic criteria for CTDs, including 15(7.89%) patients meeting the criteria for SS. Antibodies including SSA/SSB 23 (30.26%) (p1 and p 2<0.001) and AQP4–Ab10 (13.16%) (p1 = 0.044, p2 = 0.01) were significantly different in patients in the RON group when compared with those in the BON (P1 = RON VS ION) and ION (p2 = RON VS ION) groups. SS was more common in RON patients (p1 = 0.04, p2 = 0.028). There was no significant difference between SSA/SSB positive and negative patients in disease characteristics or severity. Similar results were obtained when SS was diagnosed in SSA/SSB positive patients.
Conclusion
RON and BON were more likely associated with abnormal autoantibodies; furthermore, AQP4 antibody, SSA/SSB and SS were more common in the RON patients. AQP4 antibodydetermination is crucial in RON patients who will develop NMO. However, when compared with other autoantibodies, SSA/SSB detected in patients was not significantly associated with disease characteristics or severity.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0099323
PMCID: PMC4064964  PMID: 24950188
7.  Increased circulating levels and salivary gland expression of interleukin-18 in patients with Sjögren's syndrome: relationship with autoantibody production and lymphoid organization of the periductal inflammatory infiltrate 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2004;6(5):R447-R456.
IL-18, an immunoregulatory and proinflammatory cytokine, has been shown to play an important pathogenic role in Th1-driven autoimmune disorders. In this study, we evaluated the circulating levels and salivary-gland expression of IL-18 in patients with Sjögren's syndrome (SS), a mainly Th1-mediated disease. IL-18 serum levels were measured by ELISA in 37 patients with primary SS, 42 with rheumatoid arthritis, and 21 normal controls. We demonstrated high IL-18 serum levels in SS, similar to those in rheumatoid arthritis patients and significantly higher than in controls (P < 0.01). In addition, IL-18 serum concentrations were significantly higher in anti-SSA/Ro+ and anti-SSB/La+ than in anti-SSA/Ro- and anti-SSB/La- SS patients (respectively, P = 0.01, P < 0.01). Serum IL-18 correlated strongly with anti-SSA/Ro (P = 0.004) and anti-SSB/La (P = 0.01) titers. Salivary gland IL-18 expression was investigated by single/double immunohistochemistry in 13 patients with primary SS and in 10 with chronic sialoadenitis, used as controls. The expression of IL-18 was also examined in periductal inflammatory foci in relation to the acquisition of features of secondary lymphoid organs such as T–B compartmentalization, formation of follicular dendritic cell networks, and presence of germinal-center-like structures. IL-18 expression in SS salivary glands was detected in 28 of 32 periductal foci of mononuclear cells (87.5%), while no IL-18 production by infiltrating cells was detected in patients with chronic sialoadenitis. Within the inflammatory foci, IL-18 immunoreactivity co-localized almost exclusively with CD68+ macrophages. In addition, IL-18 was found in 15 of 19 foci (78.9%) with no evidence of T–B cell compartmentalization (nonsegregated) but in 100% of the segregated aggregates, both in T- and B-cell-rich areas. Strikingly, IL-18 was strongly expressed by CD68+ tingible body macrophages in germinal-centre-like structures both in SS salivary glands and in normal lymph nodes. IL-18 expression was observed in the ducts of all SS biopsies but in only 4 of 10 patients with nonspecific chronic sialoadenitis (P < 0.01). This study provides the first evidence of increased circulating levels and salivary gland expression of IL-18 in SS, suggesting an important contribution of this cytokine to the modulation of immune inflammatory pathways in this condition.
doi:10.1186/ar1209
PMCID: PMC546280  PMID: 15380044
chronic sialoadenitis; germinal centre; interleukin-18; Sjögren's syndrome; tingible body macrophages
8.  Loss of PKCδ results in characteristics of Sjögren’s syndrome including salivary gland dysfunction 
Oral Diseases  2011;17(6):601-609.
Chronic infiltration of lymphocytes into the salivary and lacrimal glands of Sjögren’s Syndrome patients leads to destruction of acinar cells and loss of exocrine function. Protein kinase C-delta (PKCδ) is known to play a critical role in B cell maintenance. Mice in which the PKCδ gene has been disrupted have a loss of B cell tolerance, multiple organ lymphocytic infiltration, and altered apoptosis. To determine if PKCδ contributes to the pathogenesis of Sjögren’s Syndrome, we quantified changes in indicators of Sjögren’s Syndrome in PKCδ−/− mice as a function of age. Salivary gland histology, function, the presence of autoantibodies, and cytokine expression were examined. Materials and Methods: Submandibular glands were examined for the presence of lymphocytic infiltrates, and the type of infiltrating lymphocyte and cytokine deposition was evaluated by immunohistochemistry. Serum samples were tested by autoantibody screening, which was graded by its staining pattern and intensity. Salivary gland function was determined by saliva collection at various ages. Results: PKCδ−/− mice have reduced salivary gland function, B220+ B cell infiltration, anti-nuclear antibody production, and elevated IFN-γ in the salivary glands as compared to PKCδ+/+ littermates. Conclusions: PKCδ−/− mice have exocrine gland tissue damage indicative of a Sjögren’s Syndrome-like phenotype.
doi:10.1111/j.1601-0825.2011.01819.x
PMCID: PMC3293255  PMID: 21702866
PKCδ; autoimmunity; Sjögren’s syndrome
9.  Implications of anti-Ro/Sjögren's syndrome A antigen autoantibody in normal sera for autoimmunity. 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  1987;79(3):841-846.
We have applied a sensitive assay to analyze lupus and Sjögren's syndrome autoantibodies in 40 normal sera. Seven of these bound Ro/Sjögren's syndrome A antigen (SSA). Although this binding was 1,000-fold lower than the highest anti-Ro/SSA level measured from patients, it was inhibited by human Ro/SSA. Positive normal serum-bound Ro/SSA in Western immunoblots and binding activity was demonstrated in the F(ab')2 fragment of IgG. Affinity purification of normal anti-Ro/SSA IgG increased the specific anti-Ro/SSA binding by greater than 17-fold. This purified antibody formed a Ro/SSA precipitin and had a relative affinity for Ro/SSA identical to that of Ro/SSA precipitin-positive patients. These data demonstrate that the anti-Ro/SSA present in healthy normal donors is true autoantibody. Anti-La/Sjögren's syndrome B antigen (SSB) autoantibodies were found in 3 of the 40 normal sera, while none bound nuclear ribonucleoprotein (Sm). Finding low levels of anti-Ro/SSA and anti-La/SSB among normals may indicate that anti-Ro/SSA and anti-La/SSB occur in disease by enhancement of a preexisting immune response.
Images
PMCID: PMC424215  PMID: 3546381
10.  Pathogenesis of Sjögren's syndrome 
Current opinion in rheumatology  2009;21(5):465-470.
Purpose of review
To summarize recent developments in our understanding of the pathogenesis of Sjögren's syndrome with a focus on the relationship between inflammation and exocrine dysfunction.
Recent findings
Animal models demonstrated the complex interactions between immunologic and nonimmunologic mechanisms in Sjögren's syndrome. Activation of the innate immune system can lead to exocrine dysfunction before or without significant inflammation, whereas in other models, salivary gland function is preserved despite intense inflammatory infiltrates. Primary or inflammation-related abnormalities in water channels contribute to the exocrinopathy. Activation of the innate immunity in patients is demonstrated by the upregulation of type-1 interferon-regulated genes (interferon signature) in peripheral blood and salivary glands and abnormal expression of B cell-activating factor and its receptors. Nonimmune mechanisms that may contribute to exocrine dysfunction include local and systemic androgen deficiency and autonomic nervous system dysfunction. Autoantibodies against the muscarinic acetylcholine receptors would provide a link between autoimmunity and exocrine dysfunction, but the data on the presence, frequency and physiologic affect of these antibodies remain controversial.
Summary
Recent discoveries from studies in patients with Sjögren's syndrome and animal models suggest a complex interplay between genetic factors, environmental and stochastic events that involve innate and adaptive immunity, hormonal mechanisms and the autonomic nervous system. Some of these findings suggest that exocrine gland dysfunction may precede autoimmunity or represent a process independent from inflammation in the pathogenesis of Sjögren's syndrome.
doi:10.1097/BOR.0b013e32832eba21
PMCID: PMC2766246  PMID: 19568172
autonomic nervous system; exocrinopathy; innate immunity; sex steroids
11.  Interferons in Sjögren’s Syndrome: Genes, Mechanisms, and Effects 
Sjögren’s syndrome (SS) is a common, progressive autoimmune exocrinopathy distinguished by dry eyes and mouth and affects ∼0.7% of the European population. Overexpression of transcripts induced by interferons (IFN), termed as an “IFN signature,” has been found in SS patients. Four microarray studies have been published in SS that identified dysregulated genes within type I IFN signaling in either salivary glands or peripheral blood of SS patients. The mechanism of this type I IFN activation is still obscure, but several possible explanations have been proposed, including virus infection-initiated and immune complex-initiated type I IFN production by plasmacytoid dendritic cells. Genetic predisposition to increased type I IFN signaling is supported by candidate gene studies showing evidence for association of variants within IFN-related genes. Once activated, IFN signaling may contribute to numerous aspects of SS pathophysiology, including lymphocyte infiltration into exocrine glands, autoantibody production, and glandular cell apoptosis. Thus, dysregulation of IFN pathways is an important feature that can be potentially used as a serum biomarker for diagnosis and targeting of new treatments in this complex autoimmune disease.
doi:10.3389/fimmu.2013.00290
PMCID: PMC3778845  PMID: 24062752
interferon signature; Sjögren’s syndrome; gene expression profiling; microarrays; type I interferon; genetic association; mechanisms; biomarker
12.  Anti-Interferon Autoantibodies in Autoimmune Polyendocrinopathy Syndrome Type 1 
PLoS Medicine  2006;3(7):e289.
Background
The autoimmune regulator (AIRE) gene influences thymic self-tolerance induction. In autoimmune polyendocrinopathy syndrome type 1 (APS1; OMIM 240300), recessive AIRE mutations lead to autoimmunity targetting endocrine and other epithelial tissues, although chronic candidiasis usually appears first. Autoimmunity and chronic candidiasis can associate with thymomas as well. Patients with these tumours frequently also have high titre immunoglobulin G autoantibodies neutralising type I interferon (IFN)–α and IFN-ω, which are secreted signalling proteins of the cytokine superfamily involved in both innate and adaptive immunity.
Methods and Findings
We tested for serum autoantibodies to type I IFNs and other immunoregulatory cytokines using specific binding and neutralisation assays. Unexpectedly, in 60/60 Finnish and 16/16 Norwegian APS1 patients with both AIRE alleles mutated, we found high titre neutralising immunoglobulin G autoantibodies to most IFN-α subtypes and especially IFN-ω (60% homologous to IFN-α)—mostly in the earliest samples. We found lower titres against IFN-β (30% homologous to IFN-α) in 23% of patients; two-thirds of these (from Finland only) also had low titres against the distantly related “type III IFN” (IFN-λ1; alias interleukin-29). However, autoantibodies to the unrelated type II IFN, IFN-γ, and other immunoregulatory cytokines, such as interleukin-10 and interleukin-12, were much rarer and did not neutralise.
Neutralising titres against type I IFNs averaged even higher in patients with APS1 than in patients with thymomas. Anti–type I IFN autoantibodies preceded overt candidiasis (and several of the autoimmune disorders) in the informative patients, and persisted for decades thereafter. They were undetectable in unaffected heterozygous relatives of APS1 probands (except for low titres against IFN-λ1), in APS2 patients, and in isolated cases of the endocrine diseases most typical of APS1, so they appear to be APS1-specific.
Looking for potentially autoimmunising cell types, we found numerous IFN-α+ antigen-presenting cells—plus strong evidence of local IFN secretion—in the normal thymic medulla (where AIRE expression is strongest), and also in normal germinal centres, where it could perpetuate these autoantibody responses once initiated. IFN-α2 and IFN-α8 transcripts were also more abundant in antigen-presenting cells cultured from an APS1 patient's blood than from age-matched healthy controls.
Conclusions
These apparently spontaneous autoantibody responses to IFNs, particularly IFN-α and IFN-ω, segregate like a recessive trait; their high “penetrance” is especially remarkable for such a variable condition. Their apparent restriction to APS1 patients implies practical value in the clinic, e.g., in diagnosing unusual or prodromal AIRE-mutant patients with only single components of APS1, and possibly in prognosis if they prove to predict its onset. These autoantibody responses also raise numerous questions, e.g., about the rarity of other infections in APS1. Moreover, there must also be clues to autoimmunising mechanisms/cell types in the hierarchy of preferences for IFN-ω, IFN-α8, IFN-α2, and IFN-β and IFN-λ1.
Almost all of nearly 100 APS1 patients studied made large amounts of auto-antibodies that blocked the function of IFN-α and IFN-ω. The antibodies appeared early during development of the disease and may play a role in its etiology.
Editors' Summary
Background.
The human body is under constant attack by viruses, bacteria, fungi, and parasites, but the immune system usually prevents these pathogens from causing disease. To be effective, the immune system has to respond rapidly to foreign antigens (bits of protein specific to pathogens) while ignoring self-antigens. If tolerance to self-antigens breaks down, autoimmunity develops, often causing disease. There are many common autoimmune diseases—type I diabetes and multiple sclerosis, for example—but because these involve defects in many genes as well as environmental factors, the details of how autoimmunity develops remain unclear. Autoimmune polyendocrinopathy syndrome type 1 (APS1), however, is caused by defects in a single gene. Patients with this rare disease characteristically have defects (or mutations) in both copies of a gene called AIRE (for autoimmune regulator). In normal people, the protein product of this gene helps to establish tolerance to a subset of self-antigens. People carrying AIRE mutations make an autoimmune response against some of their own tissues, typically the endocrine (hormone-producing) tissues that control body metabolism. A major component of this autoimmune response are “autoantibodies” (antibodies are immune molecules that normally recognize and attack foreign substances, whereas autoantibodies are directed against the body's own molecules).
Why Was This Study Done?
For a diagnosis of APS1, a patient must have at least two of the following symptoms: recurrent, localized yeast infections (usually the first symptom of the disease to appear in early childhood), hypoparathyroidism (failure of the gland that controls calcium levels in the body), and Addison disease (failure of the steroid-producing adrenal glands, which help the body respond to stress). The researchers who did this study had previously noticed that these yeast infections and autoimmunity (usually against muscle) can also occur in patients with tumors of the thymus (thymomas). The thymus is the organ that generates immune cells called T cells. Generation of the T cell repertoire in the thymus involves selection of those T cells that recognize only foreign substances. T cells that can react against self-antigens are eliminated, and the AIRE gene is thought to be involved in this “education process.” Like those with APS1, patients with thymomas make autoantibodies not only against target organs (especially muscle in their case), but also against interferon alpha (IFN-α) and interferon omega (IFN-ω), two secreted immune regulators. The researchers wanted to know if patients with APS1 also make autoantibodies against interferons, because this could provide insights into how autoimmunity develops in APS1 and other autoimmune diseases.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers tested blood from nearly 100 APS1 patients for antibodies to IFN-α, IFN-ω, and other immunoregulatory cytokines. They found that almost all patients made large amounts of antibodies that blocked the function of IFN-α and IFN-ω; some also made lower amounts of antibodies against two related interferons, but none made blocking antibodies against unrelated interferons or other immune regulators. For many patients, serum samples were available at different times during their disease, which allowed the researchers to show that the antibodies appeared early in disease development, before the onset of yeast infections or damage to endocrine tissues, and their production continued for decades as the patient aged. Furthermore, only patients with APS1 made these antibodies—they were absent in patients with Addison disease alone, for example.
What Do These Findings Mean?
The discovery that autoantibodies to IFN-α and IFN-ω are made persistently in patients with APS1 suggests ways in which autoimmunity develops in these patients. These can now be investigated further both in patients and in animal models of the disease. The discovery also has practical implications. Measurement of these autoantibodies might help some APS1 patients by allowing earlier diagnosis—and prompter treatment—than in current practice. The levels of these autoantibodies might also help to predict the time course of APS1 in individual patients, although more studies will be needed to check this out. Finally, if future studies show that interferon autoantibodies are responsible for the patients' susceptibility to yeast infections (which seems plausible), treatment with IFN-γ, an interferon to which APS1 patients do not make autoantibodies, might provide an alternative way to deal with this problem.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0030289.
• MedlinePlus pages on autoimmune diseases
• Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man page on APS1
• Links to patient information on APS1 from the Stanford Health Library
• Wikipedia page on autoendocrine polyendocrinopathy (note: Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit)
• Information on autoimmunity from the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0030289
PMCID: PMC1475653  PMID: 16784312
13.  MicroRNAs in Sjögren’s syndrome as a prototypic autoimmune disease 
Autoimmunity reviews  2010;9(9):618-621.
MicroRNAs are endogenous non-coding RNAs, approximately 22 nucleotides in length. They regulate gene expression and are important in a wide range of physiological and pathological processes. MicroRNA expression is tightly regulated during hematopoiesis and lymphoid cell differentiation and disruption of the entire microRNA network or selected microRNAs may lead to dysregulated immune responses. Abnormalities in microRNA expression related to inflammatory cytokines, Th-17 and regulatory T cells as well as B cells have been described in several autoimmune diseases. Sjögren’s syndrome is characterized by features of systemic autoimmunity and chronic inflammation and dysfunction in exocrine organs. Its clinical characteristics along with the relatively easy access to the target tissue and its product makes Sjögren’s syndrome appealing to study many aspects of microRNAs in a systemic autoimmune disease, such as their potential as diagnostic or prognostic biomarkers and their role in pathogenesis of autoimmunity, inflammation or organ dysfunction. Encouraging preliminary data from pilot studies in Sjögren’s syndrome demonstrate the potential of microRNAs as putative diagnostic and prognostic biomarker candidates which should be tested in larger more definite studies. Combining the comparison of microRNA expression profiles between various clinical subsets of Sjögren’s syndrome with bioinformatic modeling tools may predict formerly unsuspected pathways which may contribute to the disease process and lead to the generation of testable novel hypothesis of pathogenesis.
doi:10.1016/j.autrev.2010.05.009
PMCID: PMC3408312  PMID: 20457282
biomarker; autoimmunity; epigenetics; exocrine dysfunction; pathogenesis
14.  Bilateral multiple sialolithiasis of the parotid gland in a patient with Sjögren’s syndrome 
Summary
The presence of multiple calculi in the major salivary glands is an uncommon finding. Sjögren’s syndrome is a chronic autoimmune disease characterized by lymphocyte-mediated destruction of the exocrine glands. The case is presented of a 49-year-old female with Sjögren’s syndrome found to have bilateral multiple sialolithiasis in the parenchyma of the parotid glands. The patient presented with a right sided painful inflamed swelling of the parotid region. Even though she had been diagnosed with primary Sjögren’s syndrome 3 years prior to admission, she did not report any previous episode of sialadenitis. Full blood count showed leukocytosis (white blood cells = 14,900/106L) with neutrophilia (75%). Radiological assessment included ultrasound and computed tomography scan of the parotids which demonstrated intra-parenchymal multiple calculi of both parotid glands and obstruction of the right Stensen’s duct. The patient was treated with intravenous antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs. On the second day of hospitalisation, she reported spontaneous extrusion of a calculus during massage of the gland, with immediate relief of symptoms. In patients with Sjögren’s syndrome and radiological findings of calculi in the major salivary glands, close observation is mandatory for better control of recurrent sialadenitis and early recognition of mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue lymphomas.
PMCID: PMC2640017  PMID: 17601211
Parotid gland; Sialolithiasis; Sjögren’s syndrome
15.  New Coupled-Particle Light-Scattering Assay for Detection of Ro/SSA (52 and 60 Kilodaltons) and La/SSB Autoantibodies in Connective Tissue Diseases 
The diagnostic and analytical performance of the coupled-particle light-scattering assay in detecting anti-Ro/SSA autoantibodies (the 60-kDa [Ro60] and the 52-kDa [Ro52] antibodies) and anti-La/SSB autoantibodies was evaluated. The antigens were obtained by recombinant DNA procedures to include the most immunogenic epitopes for each protein by using a prokaryotic expression system. Serum samples from 151 patients with connective tissue diseases and 52 control subjects (including patients with viral infections, patients with Lyme disease, and healthy subjects) were studied. Sensitivities for detection of anti-Ro/SSA and anti-La/SSB were 88.2 and 95.2%, respectively; specificities were 97.6 and 98.1%, respectively. The intra-assay coefficient of variation (CV) ranged from 4.3 to 10.9% for anti-Ro/SSA and from 2.8 to 12.5% for anti-La/SSB; interassay CVs ranged from 6.5 to 13.2% and from 8.2 to 14.5%, respectively. Among the anti-Ro/SSA-positive samples, Ro60 was recognized by 66% of the test sera and Ro52 was recognized by 95% of the test sera. Thirty-four percent of the Ro/SSA-positive sera were reactive only with the Ro52 antigen, indicating that anti-Ro52 is the most common antibody specificity recognized by anti-Ro/SSA autoantibodies. No differences were found between the prevalences of anti-Ro60 and anti-Ro52 in relation to systemic lupus erythematosus or Sjögren's syndrome. The results of the present study indicate that this new immunoassay is an efficient diagnostic tool for the detection of anti-Ro/SSA and anti-La/SSB antibodies in patients with autoimmune disorders.
doi:10.1128/CDLI.8.5.922-925.2001
PMCID: PMC96172  PMID: 11527804
16.  Aspects of innate immunity in Sjögren's syndrome 
Previously, a dominant role of the adaptive immune system in the pathogenesis of Sjögren's syndrome was suspected. Recent advances, however, have revealed a major role of the type I IFN pathway, documented by an increased circulating type I IFN activity and an IFN 'signature' in peripheral blood mononuclear cells and minor salivary gland biopsies from the patients. Polymorphisms in the genes IRF5 and STAT4 leading to increased IFN activation are associated with disease susceptibility. In the pathogenesis of Sjögren's syndrome, the activation of salivary gland epithelial cells appears to be the initial event. Once intrinsically activated, they express costimulatory and Toll-like receptors (TLRs) and MHC class I and II molecules, can present autoantigens and produce proinflammatory cytokines. The subsequent activation of plasmacytoid dendritic cells induces the production of high levels of proinflammatory cytokines in individuals with the risk alleles of the susceptibility genes IRF5 and STAT4. Under the influence of the high IFN concentration in the glands and through TLR ligation, B-cell activating factor is produced by epithelial cells and, together with autoantigen presentation on salivary gland epithelial cells, stimulates the adaptive immune system. In view of the central role of IFNalpha in at least the initiation of the pathogenesis of Sjögren's syndrome, blockade of this cytokine may be a rational therapeutic approach.
doi:10.1186/ar3318
PMCID: PMC3218872  PMID: 21635716
17.  Specificity of anti-SSB as a diagnostic marker for the classification of systemic lupus erythematosus 
The aim of the present study was to investigate the sensitivity and specificity of anti-Sjögren’s syndrome type B (SSB) antibodies for diagnosing systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and to understand the correlation between anti-SSB antibodies and the clinical manifestations of SLE. A line immunoassay (LIA) was used to detect the presence of serum anti-SSB antibodies in SLE patients. The clinical manifestations of the patients were recorded to enable their correlation with the serum anti-SSB antibodies to be analyzed. In 25.7% of the 74 SLE patients, the serum was positive for anti-SSB antibodies, whereas only 3.3% of the 30 control cases were positive. The specificity of anti-SSB antibodies for detecting SLE was 96.7%. In anti-SSB antibody-positive SLE patients, the incidence of cheek erythema, alopecia, serositis, secondary Sjögren’s syndrome (sSS), leukocytopenia, elevated immunoglobulin (Ig)G and positive presence of anti-Sjögren’s syndrome type A (SSA)60 or anti-SSA52 antibodies was higher than in the anti-SSB antibody-negative group (P<0.05). Anti-SSB antibodies are important for the diagnosis of SLE and are associated with cheek erythema, alopecia, serositis, sSS, leukocytopenia, the elevation of IgG and positive presence of anti-SSA60 or anti-SSA52 antibodies.
doi:10.3892/etm.2013.1051
PMCID: PMC3702711  PMID: 23837059
anti-Sjögren’s syndrome type B antibody; linear immunoblot assay; systemic lupus erythematosus
18.  Identification of autoantibody biomarkers for primary Sjögren's syndrome using protein microarrays 
Proteomics  2011;11(8):1499-1507.
Sjögren's syndrome (SS) is a chronic, progressive autoimmune disease primarily affecting women. Diagnosis of SS requires an invasive salivary gland tissue biopsy and a long delay from the start of the symptoms to final diagnosis has been frequently observed. In this study, we aim to identify salivary autoantibody biomarkers for primary SS (pSS) using a protein microarray approach. Immune-response protoarrays were used to profile saliva autoantibodies from patients with pSS (n=14), patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE, n=13), and healthy control subjects (n=13). We identified 24 potential autoantibody biomarkers that can discriminate patients with pSS from both patients with SLE and healthy individuals. Four saliva autoantibody biomarkers, anti-transglutaminase, anti-histone, anti-SSA, and anti-SSB, were further tested in independent pSS (n=34), SLE (n=34), and healthy control (n=34) subjects and all were successfully validated with ELISA. This study has demonstrated the potential of a high-throughput protein microarray approach for the discovery of autoantibody biomarkers. The identified saliva autoantibody biomarkers may lead to a clinical tool for simple, noninvasive detection of pSS at low cost.
doi:10.1002/pmic.201000206
PMCID: PMC3209962  PMID: 21413148
Autoantibody biomarker; Protein arrays; Protein microarray; Sjögren's syndrome
19.  Immunologic and structural studies of the lupus/Sjögren's syndrome autoantigen, La/SSB, with a monoclonal antibody. 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  1985;76(2):801-806.
La/SSB is a small nuclear RNA protein against which precipitating autoantibodies are made in many patients with systemic lupus erythematosus or Sjögren's syndrome. The recent purification of La/SSB has made structural and immunologic studies possible. Consequently, a mouse hybridoma antibody (La1) was raised, after immunization and fusion, that reacted with bovine La/SSB. Results of inhibition tests with tissue extracts and fluorescent antinuclear antibody tests demonstrated that La1 reacted with bovine extracts and cells, but not with those from human, mouse, or rabbit sources. La1 reacted in Western blot and in an adapted anti-La/SSB enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay with only the 41-kD bovine La/SSB peptide and not with the smaller 29-kD bovine La/SSB peptide. RNA gels showed that La1 bound the La/SSB particle that contained the predominant La/SSB RNA species near 90 nucleotides as well as the minor RNA species, both of which were bound by the human autoimmune anti-La/SSB serum. A solid-phase assay for human autoimmune anti-La/SSB antibody using La1 was more sensitive for the detection of human anti-La/SSB than was a comparable assay using purified La/SSB, and showed that anti-La/SSB is present in nearly all Ro/SSA precipitin-positive sera. Thus, this study demonstrates that monoclonal antibody can be raised against La/SSB; that the protein moiety of bovine La/SSB differs from human, mouse, and rabbit at an epitope on the 41-kD La/SSB peptide; that the RNA bound to the La1-reactive particle was as heterogeneous as that binding the anti-La/SSB autoimmune serum; and that anti-Ro/SSA and anti-La/SSB are closely associated.
Images
PMCID: PMC423905  PMID: 2411763
20.  Text-mining applied to autoimmune disease research: the Sjögren’s syndrome knowledge base 
Background
Sjögren’s syndrome is a tissue-specific autoimmune disease that affects exocrine tissues, especially salivary glands and lacrimal glands. Despite a large body of evidence gathered over the past 60 years, significant gaps still exist in our understanding of Sjögren’s syndrome. The goal of this study was to develop a database that collects and organizes gene and protein expression data from the existing literature for comparative analysis with future gene expression and proteomic studies of Sjögren’s syndrome.
Description
To catalog the existing knowledge in the field, we used text mining to generate the Sjögren’s Syndrome Knowledge Base (SSKB) of published gene/protein data, which were extracted from PubMed using text mining of over 7,700 abstracts and listing approximately 500 potential genes/proteins. The raw data were manually evaluated to remove duplicates and false-positives and assign gene names. The data base was manually curated to 477 entries, including 377 potential functional genes, which were used for enrichment and pathway analysis using gene ontology and KEGG pathway analysis.
Conclusions
The Sjögren’s syndrome knowledge base ( http://sskb.umn.edu) can form the foundation for an informed search of existing knowledge in the field as new potential therapeutic targets are identified by conventional or high throughput experimental techniques.
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-13-119
PMCID: PMC3495204  PMID: 22759918
21.  An atypical case of lymphoproliferative pulmonary involvement in a patient with Sjögren’s syndrome: a case report 
BMC Research Notes  2013;6:367.
Background
Sjögren’s syndrome is characterized by lymphocytic infiltration of the exocrine glands, together with polyclonal B-cell activation, and lung diseases are well-known complications of the disease. Therefore, in most cases associated with Sjögren’s syndrome, infiltrating lymphocytes in the lung specimen exhibit the features of B-cells. We herein report an atypical case of lymphoproliferative pulmonary involvement in a patient with Sjögren’s syndrome.
Case presentation
A 46-year-old female was admitted to our hospital because of an abnormal chest roentgenogram finding on a medical checkup. Chest computed tomography showed randomly-distributed micronodules and patchy ground-glass opacities. A surgical biopsied specimen showed an atypical pattern of interstitial pneumonia with numerous lymphoid follicles. Among the infiltrating lymphocytes in the lung, only the monoclonality of the T-cells was proven by a gene rearrangement analysis, but there was no cytological atypicality or genetic disorder revealed by testing the bone marrow aspirate. A diagnosis of Sjögren’s syndrome was made based on the patient’s other symptoms and these negative findings. The patient’s pulmonary lesions have been successfully treated and remission has been maintained for over three years with corticosteroid treatment alone.
Conclusion
The present patient was an atypical case of lymphoproliferative pulmonary involvement in a patient with Sjögren’s syndrome. Although monoclonality of the infiltrating T-cells was proven, the clinical course and the findings of the imaging and laboratory examinations were inconsistent with the previously-reported cases of primary pulmonary T-cell lymphoma. This suggests that the monoclonality of lymphocytes does not always define malignancy. The diagnosis of malignant lymphoma or lymphoproliferative diseases should be made clinically, pathologically and cytogenetically to rule out other similar diseases.
doi:10.1186/1756-0500-6-367
PMCID: PMC3847793  PMID: 24025117
Sjögren’s syndrome; Lymphoproliferative pulmonary disease; T-cells
22.  Autoantibody Frequency in Celiac Disease 
Clinics  2009;64(12):1195-1200.
AIM:
In our study, we investigated the levels of glutamic acid decarboxylase antibody (anti-GAD), islet cell antibody (ICA), thyroperoxidase antibody (anti-TPO), thyroglobulin antibody (anti-TG), antinuclear antibodies (FANA), antibodies to double-stranded DNA (anti-ds DNA), antibody to Sjögren syndrome A antigen (anti-SSA), antibody to Sjögren syndrome B antigen (anti-SSB), Smith antibody (anti-Sm), smooth muscle antibodies (ASMA), and antimitochondrial antibody liver-kidney microsome (AMA-LKM) in patients with celiac disease as compared to healthy controls and autoimmune hypothyroid patients.
MATERIALS AND METHODS:
A total of 31 patients with celiac disease, 34 patients with autoimmune hypothyroidism and 29 healthy subjects were included in this study. Anti-SSA, anti-SSB, anti-Sm, anti-ds DNA, anti-GAD, anti-TPO and anti-TG were studied by Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA), and AMA-LKM, ASMA, ANA and ICA were studied by immunofluorescence. Clinical data and the results of free thyroxine-thyroid stimulating hormone (FT4-TSH) were collected from the patients’ files by retrospective analysis. SPSS ver 13.0 was used for data analysis, and the χ2 method was used for comparisons within groups.
RESULTS:
The frequency of anti-SSA, anti-SSB, anti-GAD, anti-Sm, anti-ds DNA, AMA-LKM, ASMA, ANA and ICA were not significantly different between the groups. Levels of anti-TPO and anti-TG antibodies were found to be significantly higher (<0.001) in autoimmune hypothyroid patients when compared with other groups.
CONCLUSION:
In previous studies, an increased frequency of autoimmune diseases of other systems has been reported in patients with celiac disease. We found that the frequency of autoimmune antibodies specific for other autoimmune diseases was not higher in celiac disease.
doi:10.1590/S1807-59322009001200009
PMCID: PMC2797588  PMID: 20037707
Celiac disease; Autoimmune diseases; Autoimmune hypothyroid patients; Autoimmune antibodies; Antinuclear antibodies
23.  Autoantibodies predate the onset of systemic lupus erythematosus in northern Sweden 
Introduction
Autoantibodies have a central role in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). The presence of autoantibodies preceding disease onset by years has been reported both in patients with SLE and in those with rheumatoid arthritis, suggesting a gradual development of these diseases. Therefore, we sought to identify autoantibodies in a northern European population predating the onset of symptoms of SLE and their relationship to presenting symptoms.
Methods
The register of patients fulfilling the American College of Rheumatology criteria for SLE and with a given date of the onset of symptoms was coanalysed with the register of the Medical Biobank, Umeå, Sweden. Thirty-eight patients were identified as having donated blood samples prior to symptom onset. A nested case-control study (1:4) was performed with 152 age- and sex-matched controls identified from within the Medical Biobank register (Umeå, Sweden). Antibodies against anti-Sjögren's syndrome antigen A (Ro/SSA; 52 and 60 kDa), anti-Sjögren's syndrome antigen B, anti-Smith antibody, ribonucleoprotein, scleroderma, anti-histidyl-tRNA synthetase antibody, double-stranded DNA (dsDNA), centromere protein B and histones were analysed using the AtheNA Multi-Lyte ANA II Plus Test System on a Bio-Plex Array Reader (Luminex200). Antinuclear antibodies test II (ANA II) results were analysed using indirect immunofluorescence on human epidermal 2 cells at a sample dilution of 1:100.
Results
Autoantibodies against nuclear antigens were detected a mean (±SD) of 5.6 ± 4.7 years before the onset of symptoms and 8.7 ± 5.6 years before diagnosis in 63% of the individuals who subsequently developed SLE. The sensitivity (45.7%) was highest for ANA II, with a specificity of 95%, followed by anti-dsDNA and anti-Ro/SSA antibodies, both with sensitivities of 20.0% at specificities of 98.7% and 97.4%, respectively. The odds ratios (ORs) for predicting disease were 18.13 for anti-dsDNA (95% confidence interval (95% CI), 3.58 to 91.84) and 11.5 (95% CI, 4.54 to 28.87) for ANA. Anti-Ro/SSA antibodies appeared first at a mean of 6.6 ± 2.5 years prior to symptom onset. The mean number of autoantibodies in prediseased individuals was 1.4, and after disease onset it was 3.1 (P < 0.0005). The time predating disease was shorter and the number of autoantibodies was greater in those individuals with serositis as a presenting symptom in comparison to those with arthritis and skin manifestations as the presenting symptoms.
Conclusions
Autoantibodies against nuclear antigens were detected in individuals who developed SLE several years before the onset of symptoms and diagnosis. The most sensitive autoantibodies were ANA, Ro/SSA and dsDNA, with the highest predictive OR being for anti-dsDNA antibodies. The first autoantibodies detected were anti-Ro/SSA.
doi:10.1186/ar3258
PMCID: PMC3241374  PMID: 21342502
24.  Relation of Sensory Peripheral Neuropathy in Sjögren Syndrome to anti-Ro/SSA 
Background
Sjögren syndrome is a common, chronic autoimmune disease that typically produces inflammation and poor function of the salivary and lacrimal glands. Other organs can be affected, including the nervous system. Sensory peripheral neuropathy is a common manifestation of the disease.
Methods
Eight-eight patients attending a dry eyes-dry mouth clinic were classified as primary Sjögren syndrome and underwent a neurological examination. Anti-Ro (or SSA) and anti-La (or SSB) were determined using immunodiffusion as well as Inno-Lia and BioPlex ANA screen. Serum vitamin B12 levels were determined using an enzyme-linked microtiter plate assay.
Results
Twenty-seven (31%) of the 88 patients had peripheral neuropathy as defined by loss of light touch, proprioception or vibratory sensation. Anti-Ro and anti-La were found by immunodiffusion in 12 patients, and 8 of these 12 had neuropathy (χ2=8.46, p=0.0036, odds ratio = 6.0 compared to those without precipitating anti-Ro and anti-La). Of the 27 patients with only anti-Ro by immunodiffusion, 13 (48.1%) of these had neuropathy (χ2 =5.587, p=0.018 compared to those without anti-Ro). There was no relationship of the other, more sensitive measures of anti-Ro and anti-La to neuropathy. In addition, we found no association of serum vitamin B12 levels to neuropathy among these patients with Sjögren syndrome.
Conclusion
Sensory peripheral neuropathy is common among patients with Sjögren syndrome, and is associated with the presence of anti-Ro and anti-La when determined by immunodiffusion.
doi:10.1097/RHU.0b013e3182675e4f
PMCID: PMC3577358  PMID: 22955477
Sjögren syndrome; autoantibodies; peripheral neuropathy; vitamin B12
25.  The level of BLyS (BAFF) correlates with the titre of autoantibodies in human Sjögren's syndrome 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2003;62(2):168-171.
Background: Increased levels of B lymphocyte stimulator (BLyS) have been detected in serum from patients with systemic lupus erythematosus and rheumatoid arthritis.
Objective: To determine the level of BLyS in serum from patients with primary's Sjögren's syndrome (SS), another autoimmune disease in which B cell activation is high.
Methods: Serum samples from 49 patients with primary SS according to the revised European criteria were assayed for BLyS, quantitative immunoglobulins, and autoantibody levels and compared with samples from 47 healthy control subjects.
Results: The median level of BLyS was 5.99 ng/ml (25th-75th centile range 3.20–8.93 ng/ml) in SS v 2.49 ng/ml (25th-75th centile range 1.96–2.96 ng/ml) in healthy controls (p<0.001). More importantly, among patients with SS, the presence of anti-SSA antibodies was associated with significantly higher levels of BLyS (medians 7.90 ng/ml v 3.70 ng/ml; p=0.008) as was the presence of anti-SSB antibodies (medians 7.14 ng/ml v 3.70 ng/ml; p=0.02) and of rheumatoid factor (medians 7.70 ng/ml v 3.80 ng/ml; p=0.016). The level of BLyS in three patients with a monoclonal gammopathy was higher than in the other patients (medians 26.53 ng/ml v 5.92 ng/ml; p=0.13). Higher levels of BLyS were associated with higher levels of gammaglobulins and IgG. There was a strong correlation between BLyS and rheumatoid factor level (r=0.71, p<0.0001), anti-SSA IgG level (r=0.32, p=0.02) and anti-SSA IgM level (r=0.39, p=0.006).
Conclusion: In human SS the level of BLyS correlates with the level of autoantibodies. Thus, BLyS may play a part in activating specific autoreactive B cells and modulating the level of production of autoantibodies which are the hallmark of the disease. These findings raise the possibility of a novel therapeutic approach in human SS.
doi:10.1136/ard.62.2.168
PMCID: PMC1754442  PMID: 12525388

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