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Keywords:

  • chemokines;
  • cytokines;
  • Sjögren's syndrome;
  • T cells

Summary

To investigate the pathogenesis of localized autoimmune damage in Sjögren's syndrome (SS) by examining the expression patterns of cytokines, chemokines and chemokine receptors at sites of autoimmune damage. mRNA expression of these molecules in the labial salivary glands (LSGs) and peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) from 36 SS patients was examined using a real-time polymerase chain reaction-based method. Subsets of the infiltrating lymphocytes and chemokines/chemokine receptors expression in the LSG specimens were examined by immunohistochemistry. Cytokines/chemokine concentrations in the saliva were analysed using flow cytometry or enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. mRNA expression of T helper type 1 (Th1) cytokines, chemokines and chemokine receptors was higher in LSGs than in PBMCs. In contrast, mRNA expression of Th2 cytokines, chemokines [thymus and activation-regulated chemokine (TARC/CCL17), macrophage-derived chemokine (MDC/CCL22)] and chemokine receptor (CCR4) was associated closely with strong lymphocytic accumulation in LSGs. Furthermore, TARC and MDC were detected immunohistochemically in/around the ductal epithelial cells in LSGs, whereas CCR4 was detected on infiltrating lymphocytes. The concentrations of these cytokines/chemokines were significantly higher in the saliva from SS patients than those from controls, and the concentrations of Th2 cytokines/chemokines were associated closely with strong lymphocytic accumulation in LSGs. These results suggest that SS might be initiated and/or maintained by Th1 and Th17 cells and progress in association with Th2 cells via the interaction between particular chemokines/chemokine receptors. Furthermore, the measurement of cytokines/chemokines in saliva is suggested to be useful for diagnosis and also to reveal disease status.