Sjogren's syndrome is an autoimmune inflammatory disease that affects the lacrimal and salivary glands. To identify a potential animal model for study of Sjogren's syndrome, an evaluation was made of lacrimal and salivary glands in the C3H/lpr autoimmune strain mouse at ages before (2 months) and after (5 months) systemic autoimmune disease onset at 3 to 4 months. Quantitative and qualitative analyses of C3H/lpr lacrimal and salivary (parotid, submandibular, and sublingual) gland histopathology were performed using age- matched C3H/HeJ nonautoimmune mice to control for inflammation of nonautoimmune origin. No lacrimal or salivary gland inflammation was seen in either of the strains at 2 months of age and measures of systemic autoimmune disease were negative. At 5 months of age, the nonautoimmune C3H/HeJ controls showed a slight increase in lacrimal gland inflammation, but this was not significantly different from the 2 month old controls. A significant increase in lacrimal gland inflammation was found in the 5 month old C3H/lpr autoimmune mice in a histologic pattern similar to that of Sjogren's syndrome in human beings. Furthermore, the degree of inflammation was positively correlated with serum immune complexes and spleen weight. Sporadic inflammation of the submandibular gland was seen in both autoimmune and control mice, but this was neither statistically significant nor correlated with measures of autoimmunity. No significant inflammation was seen in the parotid or sublingual glands.
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