Sjögren's syndrome--a plethora of clinical and immunological phenotypes with a complex genetic background

Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2007 Jun:1108:433-47. doi: 10.1196/annals.1422.046.


Primary Sjögren's syndrome is a complex autoimmune disorder, considered to represent an ideal disease with which to study the mechanisms underlying autoimmunity because its manifestations are both organ specific and systemic in nature. The characteristic histologic finding in target organs is a progressive focal infiltration of mononuclear lymphoid cells, replacing glandular epithelium (lymphoepithelial lesion). This involvement has been re-emphasized in the 2002 revised EU criteria for Sjögren's syndrome. Moreover, ectopic secondary lymphoid follicles in Sjögren's syndrome contain all elements of relevance for driving an autoimmune response. A number of cytokines and chemokines are involved and particularly B cell activating factor seems to direct the lifespan of infiltrating B cells by enhancing their proliferation and maturation. The recent discovery of clinical benefit after B cell depletion also highlights the pivotal role of B cells in Sjögren's syndrome. A major challenge in Sjögren's syndrome will be to stratify the disease process including genetic and environmental triggers. Identification of novel genetic and molecular markers may lead to the development of better diagnostic and prognostic tools in Sjögren's syndrome including its systemic complications. This minor review will cover the current knowledge on classification, pathogenesis, multiplex findings, potential candidate genes, gene profiling results, and novel therapy approaches. New hypotheses behind the complexity of Sjögren's syndrome are expected to follow.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autoantibodies / immunology
  • B-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Cytokines / immunology
  • Gene Expression
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Humans
  • Phenotype*
  • Prognosis
  • Sjogren's Syndrome / genetics*
  • Sjogren's Syndrome / immunology*
  • Sjogren's Syndrome / pathology*


  • Autoantibodies
  • Cytokines