Prevalence and clinical significance of lymphocytic foci in minor salivary glands of healthy volunteers

Arthritis Rheum. 2002 Oct 15;47(5):520-4. doi: 10.1002/art.10668.


Objective: To determine the prevalence and severity of focal lymphocytic sialadenitis in minor salivary glands of healthy, asymptomatic individuals, in whom Sjögren's syndrome (SS) has been excluded.

Methods: Charts of 54 healthy volunteers who had salivary gland biopsies at the National Institutes of Health from January 1992 to August 1998 were reviewed. The healthy volunteers served as control subjects in various studies of salivary dysfunction. Significant medical conditions including SS were excluded. A biopsy with a focus score (FS) >1 was regarded as positive. Descriptive statistics were used to summarize the population's characteristics.

Results: The frequency of focal lymphocytic infiltration in the healthy volunteers was about 15% (8 of 54). None of these individuals had subjective xerostomia or dry eyes. The positive FS ranged from 2 to 6. FS did not correlate with age, smoking, serologic findings, or salivary flow in these patients.

Conclusion: Lymphocytic infiltration in minor salivary glands is not uncommon among individuals without a history of salivary gland dysfunction. This finding is in agreement with the result of a previous autopsy survey study, indicating that focal sialadenitis may occur in the absence of SS.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biopsy
  • Chronic Disease
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Salivary Glands, Minor / pathology*
  • Sialadenitis / epidemiology*
  • Sialadenitis / pathology*