The Sjögren’s Syndrome Diet: A New Approach To Treating Type 1 Diabetes?
Sjögren’s syndrome (also known as “sickle cell disease”) is a genetic disorder that causes red blood cells to become abnormally thick and sticky. These abnormal blood cells are called erythrocytes. They contain large amounts of negatively charged iron atoms, which means they have too much negative charge. This leads to anemia, or low levels of iron in the body.
Erythroid cells are responsible for producing new red blood cells, but their production is severely limited by the presence of these iron-rich erythrocytes. When too many erythrocytes accumulate in the bloodstream, they clump together and form a hard mass called an anemia cyst. This condition is called erythropoietic protoporphyria.
Anemia cysts can develop anywhere in the body, but they most commonly occur in the liver and spleen. Anemia cysts may cause symptoms such as fatigue, weakness, nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain and diarrhea. People with sjögren’s syndrome often experience other signs of anemia such as fatigue, weakness and shortness of breath.
The cells that make up the protective coating of the intestines (the epithelial cells) are also severely damaged in people with sjögren’s syndrome. These cells are replaced very slowly in most people, so the body is less able to fight off infection. The damage done to the digestive tract from sjogren’s syndrome can lead to a variety of digestive problems, such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
Sjogren’s syndrome can also cause inflammation, a condition in which the body’s defense system inappropriately attacks its own cells. Inflammation is triggered by white blood cells, a type of tissue found throughout the body that is involved in defending the body against infection. The production and activity of white blood cells are regulated by specific genes.
B-cells produce antibodies, or proteins that can identify specific foreign objects such as bacteria and viruses. This process is known as humuration. T-cells are involved in activation and regulation of the immune response. One of their functions is to destroy cells that are infected with viruses.
Sjogren’s syndrome is caused by a mutation in one of these genes. Specifically, the mutation occurs in the region of the gene that codes for a protein, called Ro52. Ro52 is involved in producing IL-4 and IL-13, a pair of proteins that play an important role in protecting against microbial infection.
Instead of producing these proteins, Ro52 fails to produce them altogether. As a result, there is an over-stimulation of the immune system. This causes the symptoms associated with sjogren’s syndrome. Compared to other cells in the body, epithelial cells are much easier for microbes to invade.
In people with Sjogren’s syndrome, the immune system attacks and destroys the protective layer of these cells. This causes the symptoms of dry eyes and dry mouth.
An anti-inflammatory drug called cromolyn has been shown to be an effective treatment for Sjogren’s syndrome. This drug is similar to those used for the treatment of asthma. It blocks the activity of a type of enzyme called phosphodiesterase, which plays an important role in activation of T-cells.
Unfortunately, a substance similar to insulin called protirelin is the only drug approved by the FDA to treat dry mouth. It is only partially effective in treating the disorder. As a result, there is an ongoing search for better drugs to treat the symptoms of Sjogren’s syndrome.
The disease is not contagious and there is no cure, but it can be managed through drugs that treat the symptoms and by avoiding things that worsen the condition.
The sjogren’s syndrome foundation has a list of drugs that may be effective in treating the symptoms of this disease. It is also important to talk to your doctor as well as a pharmacist when taking new medication.
Over-the-counter drugs may worsen the condition and cause dry eyes and mouth as well as other side effects.
Sjogren’s syndrome in the United States affects about 2 million to 4 million people. It is most common in middle-aged white women, though men and people of different ethnic groups are also affected by the disease.
This disease was named after Swedish physician Hagbarth Sjogren, who first described this condition in a paper published in 1933.
Sjogren’s syndrome can be diagnosed through a series of blood tests for the specific antibodies produced by B-cells. The most commonly used blood tests include anti-SSA, anti-SSB, and anti-RNP. These blood tests are fairly accurate in diagnosing Sjogren’s syndrome.
There is also a salivary gland test to determine salivary flow rates. This is useful in distinguishing Sjogren’s syndrome from other causes of dry mouth. Salivary flow rate tests are less reliable in diagnosing Sjogren’s syndrome.
There is no cure for this disease, but it can be managed through drugs that treat the symptoms and by avoiding things that worsen the condition.
Sjogren’s syndrome can be controlled, but not cured. Medication is available to help alleviate the symptoms of dry mouth and eyes. Your doctor may also suggest certain lifestyle changes such as avoiding smoke and allergens to help manage your condition.
Sources & references used in this article:
Effect of low dietary lipid on the development of Sjögren’s syndrome and haematological abnormalities in (NZB x NZW) F1 mice. by CA Swanson, JA Levy, WJ Morrow – Annals of the rheumatic diseases, 1989 – ard.bmj.com
Nutrient intake in women with primary and secondary Sjögren’s syndrome by JM Cermak, AS Papas, RM Sullivan… – European journal of …, 2003 – nature.com
Correlations between nutrient intake and the polar lipid profiles of meibomian gland secretions in women with Sjögren’s syndrome by BD Sullivan, JM Cermak, RM Sullivan… – … and Dry Eye Syndromes …, 2002 – Springer