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The Use Of Whole Saliva In The Differential Diagnosis Of Sjögren's Syndrome

L.M. Sreebny, W.X. Zhu

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Sjögren's Syndrome (SS) is a chronic, multisystem. autoimmune disorder. It is characterized by (1) generalized exocrine gland dysfunction, (2) serologic abnormalities, and (3) organ-system changes. Oral changes are a prominent feature of this disease. Among these are xerostomia and hypofunction of the salivary glands. Given the intimate relationship between SS and the salivary glands, it is reasonable to postulate that whole saliva (WS) contains the stigmata associated with the presence of this disease. But few studies have been conducted on this secretion. Indeed, WS has largely been neglected and ignored by physicians, dentists, and scientists. Objections to its use have included the fact that it is "impure", that it does not adequately represent what is present in the salivary glands, that no standards have been established for its rate of flow, and that findings based on it lack specificity. Yet, it is this secretion which coats and protects the hard and soft oral tissues, enables us to prepare our food for digestion, and assists our speech. This review will demonstrate that there is a uniqueness and constancy to whole saliva and that it may be used to diagnose the presence of SS. "Screening tests", which include several simple-to-perform sialometric, chemical, and microbiologic procedures, may be conducted in doctors' offices to establish the "profile" of an SS patient. Electrophoretic studies may be used to study the nature of the salivary proteins, and an immunologic test, which is performed on WS and utilizes Western Blot Autoantibody Strips (ImmunoVision. Springdale, AR). may be used to establish the definitive diagnosis of SS.