Objective: To evaluate the extent to which seemingly healthy, mature adults with mild symptoms of dry eyes or dry mouth share the immunologic features found in patients with Sjögren's syndrome.
Methods: Of 705 subjects in Malmö, Sweden (age range 52-72 years) who responded to a questionnaire, 35% reported some symptoms of dry eyes or mouth. A random subgroup of the symptomatic subjects (n = 77) and an age- and sex-matched control group from among the asymptomatic subjects (n = 32) were evaluated objectively by serologic testing and by various measures of exocrine gland function.
Results: The symptomatic subjects had relatively impaired exocrine gland function and elevated levels of anti-Ro and anti-La (1.54-2.88-fold increase compared with the asymptomatic subjects, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.41, 4.03). The 2 autoantibodies correlated with each other (r = 0.64, 95% CI 0.49, 0.78) as well as with selected clinical measures of glandular function.
Conclusion: The association between self-reported symptoms of dry eyes or dry mouth and anti-Ro and anti-La, found in more than one-third of mature adults in this study, suggests that the immune abnormalities and exocrine gland dysfunction found in Sjögren's syndrome affect a substantial proportion of the general population.