OBJECTIVES: Given the similarity in symptoms between primary Sjogren's syndrome (SjS) and non-SjS sicca syndrome (sicca), we sought to characterise clinical and proteomic predictors of symptoms in both groups in order to better understand disease mechanisms and help guide development of immunomodulatory treatments. These have not, to date, unequivocally improved symptoms in SjS clinical trials.
METHODS: Serum proteomics was performed using O-link inflammation and cardiovascular II panels. SjS (n=53) fulfilled 2016 ACR/European Alliance of Associations for Rheumatology (EULAR) criteria whereas sicca (n=60) were anti-Ro negative, displayed objective or subjective dryness, and either had a negative salivary gland biopsy or, in the absence of a biopsy, it was considered that a biopsy result would not change classification status. Linear regression analysis was performed to identify the key predictors of symptoms. Cluster analysis was completed using protein expression values.
RESULTS: EULAR-Sjögren's-Syndrome-Patient-Reported-Index (ESSPRI), EuroQoL-5 Dimension utility values, and anxiety and depression did not differ between SjS and sicca. Correlations between body mass index (BMI) and ESSPRI were found in sicca and to a lesser extent in SjS. Twenty proteins positively associated with symptoms in sicca but none in SjS. We identified two proteomically defined subgroups in sicca and two in SjS that differed in symptom burden. Within hierarchical clustering of the SjS and sicca pool, the highest symptom burden groups were the least distinct. Levels of adrenomedullin (ADM), soluble CD40 (CD40) and spondin 2 (SPON2) together explained 51% of symptom variability in sicca. ADM was strongly correlated with ESSPRI (spearman's r=0.62; p<0.0001), even in a multivariate model corrected for BMI, age, objective dryness, depression and anxiety scores.
CONCLUSIONS: Obesity-related metabolic factors may regulate symptoms in sicca. Further work should explore non-inflammatory drivers of high symptom burden in SjS to improve clinical trial outcomes.