Autoantibodies found in blood years before symptom onset of autoimmune disease

Autoantibodies are present many years before symptom onset in patients with primary Sjögren syndrome, an autoimmune disease, according to a Research Letter published in the November 6 issue of JAMA.

Primary Sjögren syndrome is a disease in which immune cells attack and destroy glands that produce tears and saliva. Autoantibodies are characteristic of this syndrome and may be involved in its development. Roland Jonsson, D.M.D., Ph.D., of the University of Bergen, Norway, and colleagues measured before in these patients.

All with primary Sjögren syndrome at Malmo University Hospital in Malmo, Sweden, have been included in a registry since 1984. Controls were randomly selected from biobanks and matched by sex, age, and date of earliest sampling (within 60 days before or after) to each case.

Of 360 cases in the registry, 44 (41 women and 3 men) provided 64 presymptomatic serum samples obtained an average of 7 years before symptom onset. In 29 cases (66 percent), autoantibodies were detected before symptom onset. All 29 cases had autoantibodies in their earliest available serum sample, as early as 18 years before symptom onset.

"To our knowledge, this is the first systematic investigation of presymptomatic autoantibodies in Sjögren syndrome. Most cases produced autoantibodies many years before clinical onset of the disease; the median [midpoint] time of 4 to 6 years is an underestimate because all seropositive cases had autoantibodies in their earliest available serum sample," the authors write.

"Autoantibody profiling may identify individuals at risk many years before disease onset. However, the significance of these presymptomatic autoantibodies for determining prognosis and treatment remains to be determined."

More information: DOI: 10.1001/jama.2013.278448

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Researchers find six new Sjogren's syndrome genes

Oct 06, 2013

With the completion of the first genome-wide association study for Sjögren's syndrome, an international coalition of researchers led by scientists at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation has identified six new disease-related ...

Stopping diabetes with insulin tablets

Sep 19, 2012

Type 1 diabetes is the autoimmune form of diabetes, in which the patients' insulin-producing beta cells are destroyed by their own immune system.

Recommended for you

Commensal bacteria help orchestrate immune response in lung

Sep 11, 2014

Studies in mice demonstrate that signals from the bacteria that harmlessly—and often beneficially—inhabit the human gastrointestinal tract boost the immune system's ability to kill a major respiratory pathogen, Klebsiella pn ...

How age alters our immune response to bereavement

Sep 09, 2014

Young people have a more robust immune response to the loss of a loved one, according to new research from the University of Birmingham, providing insight into how different generations cope with loss.

User comments