Sjogren Syndrome and Stem Cell Therapy

Stem Cell Therapies

Stem Cell Therapy

Sjogren syndrome is a chronic autoimmune disease that involves the salivary and the tear glands. This disease leads to the drying up of the mouth and the eyes. Other symptoms associated with this disease include a long-term cough, dryness of the skin, vaginal. In addition, patients might experience some numbness in the extremities. This usually affects the arms and legs. Patients might also present with symptoms such as fatigue, pains in the joints, and thyroid dysfunction. The cause of this disease is not known yet, however, researchers have suggested that this might be a mixture of genetics and environmental factors. Infections could also lead to the development of this disease; this includes viral and bacterial infections. Sjogren disease can also occur without any influence or trigger. This disease is usually diagnosed by the taking a biopsy of the glands affected, and testing them for antibodies. Glands affected by this disease would usually lymphocytes in them. Sjogren syndrome can only be treated symptomatically. As an illustration, artificial tears are administered for the treatment of dry eyes. In addition, surgical procedures can be carried out to close the tear ducts. On the other hand, easy remedies such as chewing gum, drinking water is usually advised. Analgesics are prescribed to relieve pain symptoms. The ability of stem cells to replace and repair dead cells is being explored, and would possibly be the cure for this disease in the nearest future.

What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Sjogren Syndrome?

The classic symptom of this disease is the dryness of the eyes and the mouth. Below are the other symptoms;

  1. Dryness of the eyes: This is also known as keratoconjunctivitis. Patients might feel a burning, itching sensation in the eyes. Some may also complain that “they think there is sand in their eyes”.
  2. Dry mouth: The salivary gland is a target for the antibodies. This usually reduces or eliminates the production of saliva and other fluids in the mouth. Patients mouth would feel like it’s filled with cotton. They find it uncomfortable to eat, swallow and talk.
  3. People affected by this disease usually complains of swelling and pain in their joints. Their joints might also become rigid.
  4. The salivary glands might also become swollen. This is more common in the gland that is around the temporomandibular joint area.
  5. Patients might present with skin reactions, such as rashes, and dry skin.
  6. The genitalia of affected individuals might also become dry. This is more common in women; they do present with vaginal dryness.
  7. Patients do present with a tiredness. This might persist for a long time. In addition, some patients do present with cough. This cough is usually dry and prolonged.

What Are The Causes Of Sjogren Syndrome?

Even though the cause of Sjogren syndrome is not known yet, studies have shown that there are some factors that lead to the development of this disease. These factors include genetic, environmental, and so on. Some are explained below;

  1. Genetics: People who have had a sibling or relative that has suffered from this disease, have a high chance of having Sjogren’s syndrome. In addition, some studies have shown how different the marker proteins on our white blood cells react to autoantibody production.
  2. Environmental factors: Infections have been noted to increase and cause the development of this disease. Viral and bacterial infections have been implicated in this condition. For example, viruses such as Epstein-Barr virus, Hepatitis C are all microorganisms that have been noted to cause this disease.
  3. Hormones: Sjogren syndrome is more prevalent in women. Hormones such as estrogen have been shown to affect the humoral and cell-mediated immune responses. Basically, estrogen increases the chances of having autoimmune diseases. On the other hand, androgenic hormones have been believed to reduce and protect the body from autoimmunity.

What Are The Risk Factors For Sjogren Syndrome?

Below are some of the factors and conditions that increase the risk of having this disease. Some of them are;

  1. Sex: Sjogren syndrome is more predominant in women. This has been attributed to estrogen. Apparently, estrogen increases the risk of having autoimmune On the other hand, androgens protect the body against autoantibodies.
  2. Age: This disease is more predominant in adults. It’s more prevalent in people above the age of 40.
  3. Other diseases: People who are affected by this disease also tend to have other diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis

What Are The Complications Of Sjogren Syndrome?

  1. Sjogren syndrome usually leads pulmonary system disorders such as pneumonia and bronchitis. In addition, the renal system could also be affected. These diseases usually lead to the development of cirrhosis, if left untreated for a long time.
  2. Lymph node disorders: A small fraction of people affected with this disease might eventually present with lymphoma; a cancer of the lymph nodes.
  3. Neuropathies: Some patients do present with a tingling sensation in the extremities. This includes the toes and the fingers.

How Is Sjogren Syndrome Currently Treated?

There is no specific treatment to fully restore back the functions of the glands. The focus of the treatment is usually to improve the symptoms of the disease and to make life comfortable for the patient.

  1. Eyes: Eye therapies are usually aimed at moisturizing the eyes. This is usually done by administering artificial tears to the eyes. In severe cases, patients sometimes would have to wear glasses, to keep the moisture of the eyes. Medications such as cyclosporine are often prescribed. This drug reduces the inflammatory reactions that inhibit tears production.
  2. Dryness in the mouth and vagina: Patients are advised to drink a lot of water. On the other hand, women affected with this disease are advised to make use of lubricants when engaging in sexual intercourse. The lubricants reduce the dryness of the vagina during sex.
  3. Immunosuppressant: These are administered to reduce the inflammatory process. Examples of these drugs are rituximab and belimumab.

Stem Cell Therapy Of Sjogren Syndrome

Stem cells are unique cells that have the ability to regulate and modulate immune reactions in the body. In addition to this, they are also capable of self-regeneration, and proliferation. These features make them useful in the treatment of Sjogren syndrome. Stem cells can be injected into the affected glands. These cells are capable of repairing and replacing the destroyed gland tissues and cells.


Anon, (2018). [online] Available at: http://SJOGREN SYNDROME [Accessed 5 Feb. 2018].

Kim, Y., Johnson, I., S’Aulis, D., Rizzo, W. and Nienhuis, A. (2016). 166. Lentiviral Hematopoietic Stem Cell Gene Therapy for Sjögren-Larsson Syndrome. Molecular Therapy, 24, p.S65.

O’Neill, I. and Scully, C. (2012). Biologics in oral medicine: Sjogren syndrome. Oral Diseases, 19(2), pp.121-127.

Primary Sjogren syndrome. (2012). BMJ, 345(sep20 1), pp.e6280-e6280.