Objective: To determine the association between patterns of inflammation in labial salivary glands (LSG) and the ocular component of Sjögren's syndrome (SS).
Methods: We classified LSG biopsy specimens from 618 patients with suspected SS as showing focal lymphocytic sialadenitis (FLS), other chronic sialadenitis (CS), or other diagnoses. We then determined the association of the other component of primary SS, keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS), with FLS, CS, parotid flow rate, and xerostomia.
Results: FLS, rather than CS, was associated with a diagnosis of KCS (chi 2 = 191, P < 0.0001). The severity of KCS correlated directly with the severity of FLS (r = 0.52, P < 0.0001), but not of CS, and correlated inversely with parotid flow rate in those patients who had FLS (r = -0.29), but not in those who had CS (r = -0.03). Xerostomia was marginally associated with KCS (chi 2 = 5, P = 0.02).
Conclusion: The stronger KCS association found in patients whose LSG biopsies show FLS makes FLS the best criterion presently available for diagnosing the salivary component of SS. CS is a common feature of labial salivary glands but is neither associated with SS nor an end stage of primary SS. Histopathologic examination of salivary tissue is currently essential for diagnosing primary SS as well as secondary SS in which KCS is lacking, especially cases to be included in studies of SS.