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Arch Med Res. 2006 Nov;37(8):921-32.

Pathophysiology of Sjögren's syndrome.

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Systemic Autoimmune Disease Research Unit, HGZ #36 CMN Manuel Avila Camacho, IMSS, Puebla, Mexico.


The term Sjögren's syndrome refers to keratoconjunctivitis sicca and xerostomia due to lymphocytic infiltrates of lachrymal and salivary glands. The current used criteria for diagnosis of primary Sjögren's syndrome is the American-European consensus. Primary Sjögren's syndrome is an autoimmune disorder characterized by lymphocytic infiltrates and destruction of the salivary and lachrymal glands and systemic production of autoantibodies to the ribonucleoprotein particles SS-A/Ro and SS-B/La. The infiltrating cells (T- and B-cells, dendritic cells) interfere with glandular function at several points: destruction of glandular elements by cell-mediated mechanisms; secretion of cytokines that activate pathways bearing the signature of type 1 and 2 interferons; production of autoantibodies that interfere with muscarinic receptors; and secretion of metalloproteinases (MMPs) that interfere with the interaction of the glandular cell with its extracellular matrix, which is necessary for efficient glandular function. As the process progresses, the mucosal surfaces become sites of chronic inflammation and the start of a vicious circle. Despite extensive study of the underlying cause of Sjögren's syndrome, the pathogenesis remains obscure. In broad terms, pathogenesis is multifactorial; environmental factors are thought to trigger inflammation in individuals with a genetic predisposition to the disorder.

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