Individuals with a history of infection had a two-fold increased risk of developing Sjögren's syndrome in a Journal of Internal Medicine study. Respiratory, skin, and urogenital infections were most prominently associated with this increased risk.
The study included 9,048 individuals from the general population in Sweden and 945 patients with Sjögren's syndrome--an autoimmune disease characterized by dysfunction and destruction of the salivary and lacrimal glands, leading to dry eyes and mouth.
The findings support the hypothesis that environmental triggers of the immune system play an important role in the development of Sjögren's syndrome.
"To design strategies to prevent rheumatic diseases, we need to learn how and why they develop. This is a step in that direction," said senior author Dr. Marie Wahren-Herlenius, of the Karolinska Institutet.