Skip to Main Content


Sjögren's syndrome is a chronic, slowly progressive autoimmune disease characterized by lymphocytic infiltration of the exocrine glands resulting in xerostomia and dry eyes. Approximately one-third of patients present with systemic manifestations; a small but significant number of patients may develop malignant lymphoma. The disease presents alone (primary Sjögren's syndrome) or in association with other autoimmune rheumatic diseases (secondary Sjögren's syndrome) (Table 324-1).

Table Graphic Jump Location
Table 324-1 Association of Sjögren's Syndrome with Other Autoimmune Diseases

Middle-aged women (female-to-male ratio, 9:1) are primarily affected, although it may occur in all ages, including childhood. The prevalence of primary Sjögren's syndrome is approximately 0.5–1%, while 30% of patients with autoimmune rheumatic diseases suffer from secondary Sjögren's syndrome.


Sjögren's syndrome is characterized by both lymphocytic infiltration of the exocrine glands and B lymphocyte hyperreactivity. An oligomonoclonal B cell process, which is characterized by cryoprecipitable monoclonal immunoglobulins (IgMκ) with rheumatoid factor activity, is evident in up to 25% of patients.


Sera of patients with Sjögren's syndrome often contain autoantibodies directed against non-organ-specific antigens such as immunoglobulins (rheumatoid factors) and extractable nuclear and cytoplasmic antigens (Ro/SS-A, La/SS-B). Ro/SS-A autoantigen consists of two polypeptides (52 and 60 kDa) in conjunction with cytoplasmic RNAs, whereas the 48-kDa La/SS-B protein is bound to RNA III polymerase transcripts. Autoantibodies to Ro/SS-A and La/SS-B antigens are usually detected at the time of diagnosis and are associated with earlier disease onset, longer disease duration, salivary gland enlargement, more severe lymphocytic infiltration of minor salivary glands, and certain extraglandular manifestations. Antibodies to α-fodrin (120 kDa), a salivary gland–specific protein, as well as muscarinic receptor 3 (M3R) also have been found in sera of patients with Sjögren's syndrome. The major infiltrating cells in the affected exocrine glands are activated T and B lymphocytes. T cells predominate in mild lesions, whereas B-cells in more severe lesions. T regulatory cells also have been detected. Macrophages and dendritic cells also are found. The number of interleukin (IL)-18 positive macrophages has been shown to correlate with parotid gland enlargement and low levels of the C4 component of complement, both adverse predictors for lymphoma development. Glandular epithelial cells undergo apoptotic death by signals provided from T cells. Infiltrating lymphocytes not only provide apoptotic messages to epithelial cells but also tend to be resistant to apoptosis. Ductal and acinar epithelial cells appear to play a significant role in the initiation and perpetuation of the autoimmune injury. They express class II major histocompatibility complex (MHC), costimulatory molecules, and intracellular autoantigens expressed on cell membranes, thus being able to provide signals essential for lymphocytic activation. Finally, they inappropriately produce proinflammatory cytokines and lymphoattractant chemokines necessary for sustaining the autoimmune lesion and progressing to more sophisticated ectopic germinal center formation, ...

Want remote access to your institution's subscription?

Sign in to your MyAccess profile while you are actively authenticated on this site via your institution (you will be able to verify this by looking at the top right corner of the screen - if you see your institution's name, you are authenticated). Once logged in to your MyAccess profile, you will be able to access your institution's subscription for 90 days from any location. You must be logged in while authenticated at least once every 90 days to maintain this remote access.


About MyAccess

If your institution subscribes to this resource, and you don't have a MyAccess profile, please contact your library's reference desk for information on how to gain access to this resource from off-campus.

Subscription Options

AccessMedicine Full Site: One-Year Subscription

Connect to the full suite of AccessMedicine content and resources including more than 250 examination and procedural videos, patient safety modules, an extensive drug database, Q&A, Case Files, and more.

$995 USD
Buy Now

Pay Per View: Timed Access to all of AccessMedicine

24 Hour Subscription $34.95

Buy Now

48 Hour Subscription $54.95

Buy Now

Pop-up div Successfully Displayed

This div only appears when the trigger link is hovered over. Otherwise it is hidden from view.