Sjögren’s syndrome is a tissue-specific autoimmune disease that affects exocrine tissues, especially salivary glands and lacrimal glands, leading to dry eye and dry mouth. Without the lubricating and protective functions of saliva and tears, the oral and ocular surfaces are subject to infections and discomfort leading to a significantly reduced quality of life. Sjögren’s syndrome is one of the most common autoimmune disorders in the U.S., with an estimated prevalence of ~4 million people, primarily post-menopausal women (9:1 ratio over men).
Despite a sustained effort by many investigators, several important gaps in our knowledge about Sjögren’s syndrome remain. The possible genetic and/or environmental triggers of the disease have not been defined and it is not known if environmental factors, including viruses, act as mimics to trigger an autoimmune response. Diagnostic criteria including an invasive biopsy procedure only detect established disease, often years after onset and treatment of Sjögren’s syndrome is limited to palliative treatment.
Despite a large literature on the disease, an integrated view of the available data is lacking. The Sjögren’s Syndrome Knowledge Base was developed to facilitate such data integration by tabulating and annotating existing knowledge of genes and proteins that have been linked to the disease. It is our hope that this database of existing knowledge will be integrated with newly generated data, e.g. from gene expression or proteomic studies, to stimulate the formulation and testing of new hypotheses and experimental approaches.
The development of SSKB is supported by PHS grant R01DE019255 from the National Institute for Dental and Craniofacial Research