Objectives: To examine the frequency of central nervous system (CNS) disease in primary Sjogrens syndrome (pSS) and indicate ways in which cerebral magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may help determine the significance of CNS involvement.
Methods: The current review was based on a Medline (Pubmed) literature search through May 2003, focused on Sjogrens syndrome, other vasculitides, multiple sclerosis (MS), specific MRI techniques, and MRI findings with regard to the above-mentioned diseases. Additional literature was identified in the reference sections of articles listed in Medline.
Results: Severe CNS manifestations reminiscent of MS have been described in pSS patients. Moreover, the prevalence of nonfocal neuropsychological abnormalities has been found to be elevated in some pSS patient populations. MRI studies suggest discrete cerebral tissue damage even in neurologically asymptomatic patients. However, small white matter lesions are nonspecific and may be related to age or cerebrovascular risk factors such as hypertension. A large controlled study, complementing established T2-weighted MRI with fluid-attenuated inversion recovery (FLAIR) to achieve high sensitivity in lesion detection, could indicate the disease specificity of white matter lesions in pSS. Newer MR techniques, such as spectroscopy and magnetization transfer imaging, applied, for example, in MS and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) to evaluate CNS tissue injury, could help determine the extent and mechanisms of macroscopic and microscopic CNS lesions in pSS.
Conclusions: Future controlled studies will be necessary to more precisely estimate the prevalence of CNS lesions in pSS, specifically of discrete white matter abnormalities. Newer MRI techniques have the potential to provide information on the severity and pathophysiological mechanisms of CNS tissue damage.