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J Histochem Cytochem. 2015 Jan;63(1):45-56. doi: 10.1369/0022155414555145. Epub 2014 Sep 23.

Zonula occludens-1, occludin and E-cadherin expression and organization in salivary glands with Sjögren's syndrome.

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School of Dentistry, The University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT, USA (REM, NJL, JWN, OJB)
Department of Oral Biology, University at Buffalo, The State University of New York, Buffalo, NY, USA (ADM)


Sjögren's syndrome (SS) is a chronic inflammatory autoimmune disorder that causes secretory dysfunction of the salivary glands leading to dry mouth. Previous studies reported that tight junction (TJ) proteins are down-regulated and lose polarity in human minor salivary glands with SS, suggesting that TJ structure is compromised in SS patients. In this paper, we utilized the NOD/ShiLtJ mouse with the main goal of evaluating this model for future TJ research. We found that the organization of apical proteins in areas proximal and distal to lymphocytic infiltration remained intact in mouse and human salivary glands with SS. These areas looked comparable to control glands (i.e., with no lymphocytic infiltration). TJ staining was absent in areas of lymphocytic infiltration coinciding with the loss of salivary epithelium. Gene expression studies show that most TJs are not significantly altered in 20-week-old NOD/ShiLtJ mice as compared with age-matched C57BL/6 controls. Protein expression studies revealed that the TJ proteins, zonula occludens-1 (ZO-1), occludin, claudin-12, as well as E-cadherin, do not significantly change in NOD/ShiLtJ mice. Our results suggest that ZO-1, occludin and E-cadherin are not altered in areas without lymphocytic infiltration. However, future studies will be necessary to test the functional aspect of these results.


Sjögren’s syndrome; cell polarity; lymphocytic infiltration; salivary epithelium; tight junctions

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