NCR3/NKp30 Contributes to Pathogenesis in Primary Sjögren’s Syndrome

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Science Translational Medicine  24 Jul 2013:
Vol. 5, Issue 195, pp. 195ra96
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3005727

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Sjögren’s Research to Make Your Mouth Water

Sjögren’s syndrome is an autoimmune disorder where the body’s own immune cells attack and destroy the exocrine glands that produce such things as tears and saliva. Some patients may have only minor irritation, whereas others may have more serious systemic effects. Sjögren’s syndrome is most common in women over 40, and treatment only attempts to alleviate the symptoms—there is no cure. Now, Rusakiewicz et al. implicate natural killer (NK) cells in the pathogenesis of Sjögren’s syndrome.

The authors found that a genetic polymorphism is NKp30, an NK cell–activating receptor, associated with susceptibility to Sjögren’s syndrome in human patients compared with healthy controls. NK cells in these patients expressed high levels of NKp30 and secreted more proinflammatory cytokines. What’s more, these NK cells accumulated in inflammatory foci in minor salivary glands, and salivary epithelial cells expressed B7H6, a ligand that activates NKp30. These data strongly suggest that NK cells may contribute to Sjögren’s syndrome pathogenesis, and put forth NKp30 as a therapeutic target, providing a potential oasis for Sjögren’s patients.

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