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IFNα combats Sjögren’s syndrome and its neuropathies

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Interferon alpha (IFNα) could become the preferred treatment for Sjögren’s syndrome (SS), with the finding from a small case study that it alleviates not only associated neuropathic symptoms but also the syndrome itself.

This is the first report of its effect against two progressive and severely disabling neuropathies associated with the syndrome, and it will be important to assess whether this effect holds true across the full range.

IFNα (3 MIU/day, three times a week) improved neurological symptoms and function and enabled patients to regain mobility and resume activities of daily living within one to two months after it was first given. Sicca symptoms and histological abnormalities of the salivary glands also resolved, and serum SS-A/SS-B antibodies returned to normal titres. Before receiving IFNα the patients had been treated variously with prednisolone, cyclophosphamide, and cyclosporine, to no avail, and with intravenous immunoglobulin, which required repeat treatments at two to three weeks to two to three months afterwards to maintain their effect.

The three cases were a 46 year old man and a 67 year old woman with sensory ataxic ganglionopathy and a 45 year old woman with demyelinating polyradiculoneuropathy. All had sufficient features to be classed as having SS, including raised titres of SS-A/SS-B antibodies and histologically abnormal salivary glands.

IFNα has been reported to reduce sicca symptoms, but not neuropathy, associated with SS, even though peripheral neuropathy is the commonest symptom other than abnormal functioning of the tear and salivary glands.

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