Peripheral neuropathies in Sjögren's syndrome: a critical update on clinical features and pathogenetic mechanisms

J Autoimmun. 2012 Aug;39(1-2):27-33. doi: 10.1016/j.jaut.2012.01.003. Epub 2012 Feb 6.


Sjögren's syndrome is a systemic autoimmune disease that, apart from exocrine glands, may affect every organ or system. Involvement of different sections of the peripheral nervous system results in a wide spectrum of neuropathic manifestations. Based on distinct clinical, electrophysiological and histological criteria, the types of neuropathies seen in Sjögren's syndrome include: a) pure sensory which presents with distal symmetric sensory loss due to axonal degeneration of sensory fibers; sensory ataxia due to loss of proprioceptive large fibers (ganglionopathy); or with painful dysethesias (small fiber sensory neuropathy) due to degeneration of cutaneous axons. The latter appears to be the most common neuropathy in Sjögren's syndrome and requires skin biopsy for diagnosis to document loss or reduction of nerve fiber density; b) sensorimotor polyneuropathy affecting sensory and motor axons, often associated with severe systemic or pro-lymhomatous manifestations, such as palpable purpura and cryoglobulinemia, and c) rare types that include autoimmune demyelinating neuropathy, mononeuropathy, mononeuropathy multiplex and autonomic neuropathy. In this review, the frequency, prevalence and diagnostic criteria for each neuropathy subset are discussed and possible pathogenetic mechanisms are outlined.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Autoimmunity
  • B-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Cryoglobulinemia
  • Demyelinating Diseases / etiology
  • Exocrine Glands / immunology
  • Humans
  • Peripheral Nervous System Diseases / etiology*
  • Peripheral Nervous System Diseases / pathology
  • Peripheral Nervous System Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Sensation Disorders / etiology
  • Sjogren's Syndrome / complications*
  • Sjogren's Syndrome / immunology
  • Sjogren's Syndrome / physiopathology*
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Vasculitis / etiology