The wide spectrum of clinical manifestations in Sjögren's syndrome-associated neuropathy

Brain. 2005 Nov;128(Pt 11):2518-34. doi: 10.1093/brain/awh605. Epub 2005 Jul 27.


We assessed the clinicopathological features of 92 patients with primary Sjögren's syndrome-associated neuropathy (76 women, 16 men, 54.7 years, age at onset). The majority of patients (93%) were diagnosed with Sjögren's syndrome after neuropathic symptoms appeared. We classified these patients into seven forms of neuropathy: sensory ataxic neuropathy (n = 36), painful sensory neuropathy without sensory ataxia (n = 18), multiple mononeuropathy (n = 11), multiple cranial neuropathy (n = 5), trigeminal neuropathy (n = 15), autonomic neuropathy (n = 3) and radiculoneuropathy (n = 4), based on the predominant neuropathic symptoms. Acute or subacute onset was seen more frequently in multiple mononeuropathy and multiple cranial neuropathy, whereas chronic progression was predominant in other forms of neuropathy. Sensory symptoms without substantial motor involvement were seen predominantly in sensory ataxic, painful sensory, trigeminal and autonomic neuropathy, although the affected sensory modalities and distribution pattern varied. In contrast, motor weakness and muscle atrophy were observed in multiple mononeuropathy, multiple cranial neuropathy and radiculoneuropathy. Autonomic symptoms were often seen in all forms of neuropathy. Abnormal pupils and orthostatic hypotension were particularly frequent in sensory ataxic, painful, trigeminal and autonomic neuropathy. Unelicited somatosensory evoked potentials and spinal cord posterior column abnormalities in MRI were observed in sensory ataxic, painful and autonomic neuropathy. Sural nerve biopsy specimens (n = 55) revealed variable degrees of axon loss. Predominantly large fibre loss was observed in sensory ataxic neuropathy, whereas predominantly small fibre loss occurred in painful sensory neuropathy. Angiitis and perivascular cell invasion were seen most frequently in multiple mononeuropathy, followed by sensory ataxic neuropathy. The autopsy findings of one patient with sensory ataxic neuropathy showed severe large sensory neuron loss paralleling to dorsal root and posterior column involvement of the spinal cord, and severe sympathetic neuron loss. Degrees of neuron loss in the dorsal and sympathetic ganglion corresponded to segmental distribution of sensory and sweating impairment. Multifocal T-cell invasion was seen in the dorsal root and sympathetic ganglion, perineurial space and vessel walls in the nerve trunks. Differential therapeutic responses for corticosteroids and IVIg were seen among the neuropathic forms. These clinicopathological observations suggest that sensory ataxic, painful and perhaps trigeminal neuropathy are related to ganglioneuronopathic process, whereas multiple mononeuropathy and multiple cranial neuropathy would be more closely associated with vasculitic process.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Autonomic Nervous System Diseases / complications
  • Autonomic Nervous System Diseases / pathology
  • Autonomic Nervous System Diseases / physiopathology
  • Cranial Nerve Diseases / pathology
  • Cranial Nerve Diseases / physiopathology
  • Evoked Potentials, Somatosensory
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nervous System Diseases / complications
  • Nervous System Diseases / pathology*
  • Nervous System Diseases / physiopathology
  • Neural Conduction
  • Peripheral Nervous System Diseases / complications
  • Peripheral Nervous System Diseases / pathology
  • Peripheral Nervous System Diseases / physiopathology
  • Sensation Disorders / pathology
  • Sensation Disorders / physiopathology
  • Sjogren's Syndrome / complications
  • Sjogren's Syndrome / pathology*
  • Sjogren's Syndrome / physiopathology
  • Spinal Cord / pathology