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Keywords:

  • biologics;
  • Sjogren syndrome;
  • tumour necrosis factor;
  • etanercept;
  • infliximab;
  • rituximab;
  • epratuzumab;
  • belimumab;
  • xerostomia;
  • lymphoma

Oral Diseases (2012) doi:10.1111/j.1601-0825.2012.01932.x

Biologic therapy has a potential to benefit patients with orofacial manifestations of Sjogren syndrome (SS). The most appropriate use of biologics would appear to be in patients with severe or multisystem features of SS, but their use early in the pathogenesis has the potential to prevent disease progression. Tumour necrosis factor-alpha blockade has not proven effective in SS. B-cell depletion using rituximab has been of benefit, mainly in relation to extraglandular features, and to some extent in relation to hyposalivation where there is still residual salivary function. Rituximab is also effective in the treatment of SS-associated (extrasalivary) lymphomas, although the therapeutic response in salivary lymphoma is poorer. Rituximab is given as a single or periodic intravenous infusion. Potential adverse effects exist, notably infusion reactions and infection, and so a full risk/benefit analysis is indicated for prospective patients. This and clinical use is best performed and monitored in conjunction with rheumatologists with appropriate training and experience in biologic therapies. Further studies of rituximab in SS are ongoing, and newer agents under trial include belimumab.