Ann Rheum Dis 57:291-295 doi:10.1136/ard.57.5.291
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Fatigue in primary Sjögren’s syndrome


OBJECTIVE To assess fatigue in relation to depression, blood pressure, and plasma catecholamines in patients with primary Sjögren’s syndrome (SS), in comparison with healthy controls and patients with rheumatoid arthritis.

METHODS For the assessment of fatigue the Multidimensional Fatigue Inventory (MFI) was used, a 20 item questionnaire, covering the following dimensions: general fatigue, physical fatigue, mental fatigue, reduced motivation, and reduced activity. Furthermore, the Zung depression scale was used to quantify aspects of depression. Forty nine female primary SS patients, 44 female patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and 32 healthy women filled in both questionnaires. In addition, supine values of blood pressure and plasma catecholamines were measured in the patients with primary SS.

RESULTS Primary SS patients were more fatigued compared with the healthy controls on all the five dimensions of the MFI. When the analyses were repeated using depression as a covariate, group differences disappeared for the dimensions of reduced motivation and mental fatigue. In the primary SS patients, significant positive correlations between depression and the dimensions of reduced motivation and mental fatigue were found. Comparing patients with primary SS with those with RA, using depression as covariate, no statistically significant differences were found between these groups. No relation between fatigue and blood pressure was found, but a negative correlation was observed between the general fatigue subscale of the MFI and plasma noradrenaline.

CONCLUSION Patients with primary SS report more fatigue than healthy controls on all the dimensions of the MFI and when controlling for depression significant differences remain on the dimensions of general fatigue, physical fatigue, and reduced activity. The negative correlations between levels of noradrenaline and general fatigue in patients with primary SS may imply the involvement of the autonomic nervous system in chronic fatigue.