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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Salivary changes and dental caries as potential oral markers of autoimmune salivary gland dysfunction in primary Sjögren's syndrome

Anne Marie Lynge Pedersen*, Allan Bardow and Birgitte Nauntofte

Author affiliations

Department of Oral Medicine, Clinical Oral Physiology, Oral Pathology and Anatomy, and Copenhagen Gerodontological Research Centre, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Norre Allé 20, 2200 Copenhagen N, Denmark

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Citation and License

BMC Clinical Pathology 2005, 5:4  doi:10.1186/1472-6890-5-4

Published: 1 March 2005

Abstract

Background

the classification criteria for primary Sjögren's syndrome (pSS) include a number of oral components. In this study we evaluated if salivary flow and composition as well as dental caries are oral markers of disease severity in pSS.

Methods

in 20 patients fulfilling the American-European Consensus criteria for pSS and 20 age-matched healthy controls whole and parotid saliva flow rates and composition, measures of oral dryness, scores of decayed, missing and filled tooth surfaces (DMFS), periodontal indices, oral hygiene, and dietary habits were examined.

Results

in pSS, salivary flow rates, pH, and buffer capacities were lower, and DMFS, salivary sodium and chloride concentrations higher than in the healthy controls. DMFS also correlated inversely to salivary flow rates and positively to oral dryness. Apart from slightly increased gingival index, and more frequent dental visits in pSS, the periodontal condition, oral hygiene or sugar intake did not differ between these two groups. In pSS, findings were correlated to labial salivary gland focus score (FS) and presence of serum-autoantibodies to SSA/SSB (AB). The patients having both presence of AB and the highest FS (>2) also had the highest salivary sodium and chloride concentrations, the lowest salivary phosphate concentrations, lowest salivary flow rates, and highest DMFS compared to those with normal salivary concentrations of sodium and chloride at a given flow rate.

Conclusion

the salivary changes observed in some pSS patients reflect impaired ductal salt reabsorption, but unaffected acinar transport mechanisms, despite low salivary secretion. Our results suggest that changes in salivary flow and composition as well as dental caries may serve as potential markers of the extent of autoimmune-mediated salivary gland dysfunction in pSS. The study also indicates that the ductal epithelium is functionally affected in some pSS patients, which calls for future pathophysiological studies on the mechanisms underlying this impaired salt reabsorption.