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Increased expression of interleukin (IL)-7 and its receptor is suggested to play a critical role in immunopathology of primary Sjögren's syndrome (pSS).1–3 Data from humans and mice demonstrate that IL-7 drives a range of processes involved in pSS immunopathology, including epithelial cell apoptosis, lymphocyte infiltration and reduction of salivary output.3 The IL-7/IL-7R axis is involved in the formation of (ectopic) lymphoid structures in salivary glands (SGs),3 ,4 which is a predictor for lymphoma development in pSS.5 ,6 IL-7 activity is potentiated by the soluble form of its receptor (sIL-7R), which is produced in inflamed tissues by activated stromal cells.7 As sIL-7R is a possible biomarker for IL-7-driven immune activation and lymphoid neogenesis, we studied the expression of sIL-7R in pSS in relation to markers of inflammation and saliva production.
Ninety-five patients with pSS were diagnosed according to the 2002 criteria (table 1).8 sIL-7R was measured in serum of 68 patients with pSS using ELISA as previously described9 and compared with 51 healthy individuals (HC). Labial SG biopsy tissues were taken from 27 patients and, after thorough rinsing, were incubated in 200 µL of sterile saline for 1 hour at room temperature. In these tissue supernatants, sIL-7R was measured …