South Korean Investigators Pursue Protein in Saliva as Potential Sjögren’s Biomarker

May 22, 2019 | Autoimmune Disease, Korea, Seoul St. Mary’s Hospital, Sjögren’s Syndrome

Sjögren’s Syndrome

Sjögren’s Syndrome is a long-term autoimmune disease that affects the body’s moisture-producing glands. Primary symptoms are a dry mouth and dry eyes. Other symptoms can include dry skin, vaginal dryness, a chronic coughnumbness in the arms and legs, feeling tiredmuscle and joint pains, and thyroid problems. Those affected are at an increased risk (5%) of lymphoma.

While the exact cause is unclear, it is believed to involve a combination of genetics and an environmental trigger such as exposure to a virus or bacteria. It can occur independently of other health problems (primary Sjögren syndrome) or as a result of another connective tissue disorder (secondary Sjögren syndrome). The inflammation that results progressively damages the glands. Diagnosis is by biopsy of moisture-producing glands and blood tests looking for specific antibodies. On biopsy there are typically lymphocytes within the glands.

Sjögren’s Syndrome News reports that South Korean researchers believe that a protein in saliva represents a potential biomarker for the condition. The study was authored by a team of South Korean researchers including Seoul St. Mary’s Hospital, College of Medicine, The Catholic University.

They have found that levels of siglec-5 protein in saliva are significantly higher in Sjögren’s syndrome patients than in healthy people or patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), and correlate with the severity of disease symptoms, suggesting that the protein could serve as a salivary biomarker for the diagnoses of Sjögren’s syndrome.  See Sjögren’s Syndrome News for more information on this potential breakthrough from South Korea.

Lead Research Investigator

Sung-Hwan Park, Division of Rheumatology, Department of Internal Medicine, Seoul St. Mary’s Hospital, College of Medicine,  The Catholic University of Korea


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