Sjögren syndrome is a disorder whose main features are dry eyes and a dry mouth. The condition typically develops gradually beginning in middle adulthood but can occur at any age.
Sjögren syndrome is thought to result from a combination of genetic and environmental factors; however, no associations between specific genetic changes and the development of Sjögren syndrome have been confirmed. Researchers believe that variations in many genes affect the risk of developing Sjögren syndrome, but that development of the condition may be triggered by something in the environment. In particular, viral or bacterial infections, which activate the immune system, may have the potential to encourage the development of Sjögren syndrome in susceptible individuals. The genetic variations that increase susceptibility may reduce the body's ability to turn off the immune response when it is no longer needed.
Sjögren syndrome is a relatively common disorder; it occurs in 0.1 to 1 percent of the population. It is difficult to determine the exact prevalence because the characteristic features of this disorder, dry eyes and dry mouth, can also be caused by many other conditions. Women develop Sjögren syndrome about 10 times more often than men; the specific reason for this difference is unknown but likely involves the effects of sex hormones on immune system function.
A predisposition to develop autoimmune disorders can be passed through generations in families. Relatives of people with Sjögren syndrome are at an increased risk of developing autoimmune diseases, although they are not necessarily more likely to develop Sjögren syndrome in particular. The inheritance pattern of this predisposition is unknown.
Published Date: December 09, 2021Published By: National Institutes of Health