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Scand J Immunol. 2002 Apr;55(4):336-42.

Expression of the B cell-attracting chemokine CXCL13 in the target organ and autoantibody production in ectopic lymphoid tissue in the chronic inflammatory disease Sjögren's syndrome.

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Department of Medicine, Rheumatology Unit, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.


Sjögren's syndrome is an autoimmune disease characterized by lymphocytic infiltrates resembling secondary lymphoid organs in salivary glands. In this study, we demonstrate the expression of the lymphoid tissue homing chemokine CXCL13 (BCA-1/BLC), which has attracting properties for B cells and subsets of activated T cells, in salivary glands of patients with Sjögren's syndrome using immunohistochemistry and in situ hybridization. CXCL13 expression was primarily observed in epithelial cells in acini and ducts of inflamed glands while its receptor, CXCR5 (BLR-1), was expressed on the infiltrating mononuclear cells. In addition, cells producing antibodies against one of the major autoantigens in Sjögren's syndrome, Ro 52, were identified at the periphery of the follicular infiltrates indicating that the ectopic lymphoid tissue is directly involved in the disease process. Identification of CXCL13 and CXCR5 in salivary glands suggests that the target organ plays an essential role in the inflammatory process by recruiting B and T cells. These results also provide a molecular mechanism by which lymphoid neogenesis and ectopic germinal centre formation might occur in the glands of these patients, which may be the key step in the development of the chronic inflammatory process in Sjögren's syndrome.

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