Sj’gren’s Syndrome :: Saliva to diagnose primary Sj’gren’s Syndrome

Today, during the 85th General Session of the International Association for Dental Research, scientists are reporting that, instead of blood tests and biopsy, saliva can be used to detect primary Sj?gren?s Syndrome (pSS), an autoimmune disease which affects ~4 million American, 90% being women.

pSS patients are 40 times more at risk than healthy people to develop lymphoma, a fatal lymphocytic cancer.

Scientists at the University of California-Los Angeles have identified a panel of salivary biomarkers that can distinguish pSS patients from healthy subjects. Using cutting-edge proteomics and genomics technologies, they searched globally for markers in saliva from SS patients and healthy people, and found that saliva, especially whole saliva (that is, the combined saliva in the mouth, vs. saliva from the individual salivary glands), is informative for detecting patients with pSS.

In addition, the proteomic and genomic profile of these markers reflects the damage to glandular cells, activated anti-viral immune response, or programmed cell death known to be involved in SS pathogenesis. The value of these candidate biomarkers for SS diagnosis has been confirmed by independent technologies. The saliva proteomic and genomic biomarkers collectively will have a positive beneficial diagnostic value on the clinical detection of pSS in the near future.

This is a summary of abstract #192, “Saliva RNA Biomarker Candidates for Primary Sj?gren?s Syndrome Detection”, by J. Wang et al., of the University of California-Los Angeles, to be presented at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, March 22, 2007, in Room 290 of the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, during the 85th General Session of the International Association for Dental Research.

Sj?gren’s syndrome is an autoimmune disorder in which immune cells attack and destroy the exocrine glands that produce tears and saliva. It is named after Swedish ophthalmologist Henrik Sj?gren (1899-1986), who first described it.

Sj?gren’s syndrome is also associated with rheumatic disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, and it is rheumatoid factor positive in 90 percent of cases. The hallmark symptoms of the disorder are dry mouth and dry eyes (part of what are known as sicca symptoms). In addition, Sj?gren’s syndrome may cause skin, nose, and vaginal dryness, and may affect other organs of the body, including the kidneys, blood vessels, lungs, liver, pancreas, and brain. Nine out of ten Sj?gren’s patients are women and the average age of onset is late 40s, although Sj?gren’s occurs in all age groups in both women and men.

It is estimated to strike as many as 4 million people in the United States alone making it the second most common autoimmune rheumatic disease.

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