New concepts in the pathogenesis of Sjögren syndrome: many questions, fewer answers

Curr Opin Rheumatol. 2003 Sep;15(5):563-70. doi: 10.1097/00002281-200309000-00007.


Although a modified European-American consensus classification of Sjögren syndrome has been introduced during the last year, the etiopathogenesis of this disease characterized by chronic lymphocytic inflammation, impaired function, and, finally, destruction of the salivary and lacrimal glands as well as systemic manifestations remains to be elucidated. Recent insights into the pathogenesis of Sjögren syndrome resulting from immunogenetic, hormonal, and epidemiologic evaluations as well as animal and in vitro studies are highlighted by this review. Evidence confirms that lymphocytic disturbances, including ectopic germinal center formation and aberrations of cellular signaling play a significant role in Sjögren syndrome. Although some of these features are unique to Sjögren syndrome, others are also found in a number of systemic autoimmune diseases, such as systemic lupus erythematosus, systemic sclerosis, and rheumatoid arthritis. The underlying cause of Sjögren syndrome remains largely enigmatic. However, distinct characteristics may provide the basis for the classification of the disease entities. Finally, an enhanced risk of lymphomagenesis is a well-known hallmark of primary Sjögren syndrome, indicating the central role of derangement of lymphocyte regulation. As demonstrated by the introduction of the new targeted therapeutic approaches in rheumatoid arthritis, solid insights into the pathogenesis of Sjögren syndrome may pave the way toward new therapeutic approaches.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autoimmunity
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Humans
  • Sjogren's Syndrome / etiology*
  • Sjogren's Syndrome / immunology
  • Sjogren's Syndrome / pathology