Primary Sjögren's syndrome (pSS) is a chronic autoimmune rheumatic disease characterized by inflammation of exocrine glands, mainly salivary and lacrimal glands. In addition, pSS may affect multiple other organs resulting in systemic manifestations. Although the precise etiology of pSS remains elusive, pSS is considered to be a multi-factorial disease, where underlying genetic predisposition, environmental factors and epigenetic mechanisms contribute to disease development. Epigenetic mechanisms, such as DNA methylation, histone modifications and non-coding RNAs, may constitute a dynamic link between genome, environment and phenotypic manifestation by their modulating effects on gene expression. A growing body of studies reporting altered epigenetic landscapes in pSS suggests that epigenetic mechanisms play a role in the pathogenesis of pSS, and the reversible nature of epigenetic modifications suggests therapeutic strategies targeting epigenetic dysregulation in pSS. This article reviews our current understanding of epigenetic mechanisms in pSS and discusses implications for novel diagnostic and therapeutic approaches.
Keywords: DNA methylation; Epigenetics; Histone modification; Interferon (IFN); Non-coding RNA (ncRNA); Primary Sjögren's syndrome (pSS).
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