Objective: To determine the prevalence of neurological and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) abnormalities in a well defined population of unselected patients with primary Sjögren's syndrome (SS) and age and sex matched healthy patients.
Methods: Thirty patients with SS and 29 age and sex matched controls were examined by a neurologist and subsequently underwent MRI scanning with a 1.0 Tesla Siemens Impact MR scanner. Scans were graded by a neuroradiologist blinded to the clinical status of each subject. The number and location of white matter lesions > 3 mm in long axis (to exclude non-specific perivascular changes) were recorded for each subject.
Results: There was a significant increase in lesions detected by MRI in SS patients versus controls (p = 0.02) including deep white matter lesions (p = 0.03) and subcortical white matter lesions (p = 0.02). The presence of white matter lesions did not correlate with serum IgG or rheumatoid factor levels, or with presence of anticardiolipin antibodies. No subjects had symptoms or signs of serious neurological disease including multiple sclerosis, and corpus callosal lesions commonly seen in multiple sclerosis were notably absent in this study.
Conclusion: Cerebral white matter lesions detected by MRI are more frequent in patients with primary SS than control subjects, yet do not appear to be associated with significant clinical manifestations. Although the pathological nature of these lesions is yet to be defined, their presence should not be over-interpreted.