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Analysis of immunoglobulin light chain rearrangements in the salivary gland and blood of a patient with Sjögren's syndrome

Annett M Jacobi1, Arne Hansen2, Olaf Kaufmann3, Axel Pruss4, Gerd R Burmester1, Peter E Lipsky5 and Thomas Dörner1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Internal Medicine/Rheumatology and Clinical Immunology, Charite University Hospital, Berlin, Germany

2 Outpatients' Department, Charite University Hospital, Berlin, Germany

3 Institute of Pathology, Charite University Hospital, Berlin, Germany

4 Institute of Transfusion Medicine, Charite University Hospital, Berlin, Germany

5 NIAMS, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, USA

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Arthritis Res 2002, 4:R4  doi:10.1186/ar423

Published: 11 June 2002


Patients with Sjögren's syndrome (SS) have characteristic lymphocytic infiltrates of the salivary glands. To determine whether the B cells accumulating in the salivary glands of SS patients represent a distinct population and to delineate their potential immunopathologic impact, individual B cells obtained from the parotid gland and from the peripheral blood were analyzed for immunglobulin light chain gene rearrangements by PCR amplification of genomic DNA. The productive immunglobulin light chain repertoire in the parotid gland of the SS patient was found to be restricted, showing a preferential usage of particular variable lambda chain genes (Vλ2E) and variable kappa chain genes (VκA27). Moreover, clonally related VL chain rearrangements were identified; namely, VκA27–Jκ5 and VκA19–Jκ2 in the parotid gland, and Vλ1C–Jλ3 in the parotid gland and the peripheral blood. Vκ and Vλ rearrangements from the parotid gland exhibited a significantly elevated mutational frequency compared with those from the peripheral blood (P < 0.001). Mutational analysis revealed a pattern of somatic hypermutation similar to that found in normal donors, and a comparable impact of selection of mutated rearrangements in both the peripheral blood and the parotid gland. These data indicate that there is biased usage of VL chain genes caused by selection and clonal expansion of B cells expressing particular VL genes. In addition, the data document an accumulation of B cells bearing mutated VL gene rearrangements within the parotid gland of the SS patient. These results suggest a role of antigen-activated and selected B cells in the local autoimmune process in SS.

B cells; parotid gland; Sjögren's syndrome; somatic mutation; V light chain genes