Analysis of Hepatitis D Virus in Minor Salivary Gland of Sjögren's Disease

J Dent Res. 2023 Oct;102(11):1272-1279. doi: 10.1177/00220345231186394. Epub 2023 Aug 14.


Hepatitis delta virus (HDV) has been detected in the minor salivary gland (MSG) tissue of Sjögren's disease (SjD) patients in the absence of a hepatitis B virus (HBV) coinfection. Previous research has shown that HDV antigen (HDAg) expression can trigger an SjD-like phenotype in vivo, demonstrating a potential cause-and-effect relationship. We hypothesize that if HDV plays a role in the development of SjD, then HDV profiles may be correlated with disease manifestations. This retrospective study characterized HDV in a cohort of 48 SjD MSG samples collected between 2014 and 2021. Analyses of HDAg expression, including cell type and subcellular localization, in situ hybridization of HDV RNA, and comparative analyses with associated SjD and viral hepatitis clinical features, were conducted. HDAg was detected in MSG acinar, ductal, myoepithelial, and adipose cells and localized with the nuclei, cytoplasm, and mitochondria. In situ hybridization detected HDV genomic RNA localization in the MSG nuclei. A significant negative correlation was found between HDAg intensity and focal lymphocytic inflammation and in patients with both anti-SSA/Ro-52 and anti-SSA/Ro-60. In analyzing autoimmune disease comorbidities with SjD, it was found that SjD patients diagnosed with autoimmune thyroiditis and/or hypothyroidism were significantly more represented in the high HDAg intensity group compared to the negative and moderate HDAg intensity groups. No significant associations were detected between MSG-localized HDAg and liver enzymes or an evident HBV coinfection. This study has further confirmed that there is a nonhepatic reservoir for chronic HDV persistence in SjD-affected salivary gland tissue in a third independent SjD patient cohort. In addition, this study describes the unique colocalization of HDAg with mitochondria. The detection of HDV antigen and sequence within SjD-affected salivary gland tissue, and in the absence of an evident current or past HBV coinfection, warrants further investigation.

Keywords: Sjogren syndrome; Sjogren’s syndrome; hepatitis b virus; hepatitis d virus; hepatitis delta virus; non-communicable chronic disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Coinfection*
  • Hepatitis B virus / genetics
  • Hepatitis B virus / metabolism
  • Hepatitis B* / complications
  • Hepatitis Delta Virus / genetics
  • Hepatitis Delta Virus / metabolism
  • Hepatitis delta Antigens / metabolism
  • Humans
  • RNA / metabolism
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Salivary Glands, Minor / metabolism
  • Sjogren's Syndrome*


  • Hepatitis delta Antigens
  • RNA