Differences in diagnostic criteria for Sjogren's Syndrome (SS) have led to confusion in the research literature and in clinical practice. A particular challenge is the clinical diagnosis of the patients with sicca symptoms, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, vague cognitive defects, and a low titer antinuclear antibody. Until recently, many of these patients would have been classified as primary SS using the European criteria. A suggested revision of the European criteria will require inclusion of anti- SS-A antibody or characteristic minor salivary gland biopsy, leading to greater agreement between European and San Diego criteria. Recent studies have emphasized that lacrimal and salivary gland flow involves an entire “functional” unit that includes the mucosal surface (the site of inflammation), efferent nerve signals sent to the midbrain (lacrimatory and salvatory nucleus), efferent neural signals from the brain, and acinal/ductal structures in the gland. Thus, symptoms of dryness or pain can result from interferences with any part of this functional unit. The initiating antigens in SS remain unknown, but immune reactivity against SS-A, SS-B, fodrin, α-amylase, and carbonic anhydrase have been demonstrated in patients with established disease. The inflammatory process in the gland releases metalloproteinases that alter the relationship of epithelial cells to their matrix, an interaction that is necessary for glandular function and survival. Therapies for SS remain inadequate. In SS patients with immune-mediated extraglandular manifestation (ie, lung, kidney, skin, nerve), the therapeutic approach is similar to systemic lupus erythematosus, although these therapies have relatively little effect on tear or saliva flow.
© 1998 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.