Primary Sjögren's syndrome (pSS) is an autoimmune disease characterised by an increased risk for non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) development. Ectopic germinal centre (GC) in the salivary gland is associated with increased NHL risk in pSS, and the chemokine CXCL13 is implicated in B-cell migration and GC formation. Serum CXCL13 concentrations were quantified by ELISA in 48 healthy individuals, 273 pSS patients without NHL (pSS-nonL), and 38 pSS patients with NHL (pSS-NHL+) from the United Kingdom Primary Sjögren's Syndrome Registry cohort. PSS-nonL patients were stratified into low risk (LR), moderate risk (MR) and high risk (HR) groups according to the lymphoma risk score proposed by Fragkioudaki et al. Differences in serum CXCL13 levels among groups were analysed using the Wilcoxon method. Also, changes in serum CXCL13 over a time period of at least 1 year and a median 4 years were assessed for 200 pSS-nonL and 8 pSS-NHL+ patients. In addition, associations of serum CXCL13 with B-cell and inflammatory markers were investigated by correlation analyses and logistic regression. Serum CXCL13 levels were higher in all pSS groups compared to controls (p < 0.0001), and in pSS-NHL+ compared to pSS-nonL patients (p = 0.0204). LR patients had lower CXCL13 levels than MR patients (p < 0.0001) and pSS-NHL+ patients (p = 0.0008). CXCL13 levels remained stable over the study period for all pSS groups. CXCL13 was associated (p < 0.0005) with Immunoglobulin G (IgG), B-cell activating factor, β2 microglobulin, combined free light chains, κ and λ light chains, anti-Ro/SSA, anti-La/SSB, and erythrocyte sedimentation rate. IgG and C3 controlled for age and gender were significantly associated with NHL risk in pSS. Serum CXCL13 levels were elevated in pSS-NHL+ and MR patients compared to LR patients and remained stable over time. Further study is required to investigate the role of CXCL13 in pSS-associated NHL risk.
Keywords: CXCL13; Germinal centres; Primary Sjögren’s syndrome; non-Hodgkin lymphoma.