Sjögren’s Syndrome Incidence Varies by Ethnicity, Gender, Manhattan Study Shows

Vijaya Iyer, PhD avatar

by Vijaya Iyer, PhD |

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Among Manhattan residents, women are more affected by Sjögren’s syndrome than men, with the most new cases reported in Asian women, a study shows.

The study, “The Incidence and Prevalence of Adult Primary Sjögren’s Syndrome in New York County,” was published in the journal Arthritis Care & Research.

Sjögren’s syndrome is a chronic autoimmune condition where immune cells attack exocrine glands, like those that produce tears and saliva. As a result, patients often experience dry eyes and mouth.

It is unclear how the disease affects patients with different ethnicities or races in the U.S. To look into this, researchers examined data from The Manhattan Lupus Surveillance Program (MLSP) to determine the incidence and prevalence of primary Sjögren’s syndrome in residents of New York County (Manhattan), New York.

Incidence relates to the number of new cases arising during a specific period of time, and prevalence refers to the number of existing patients with the condition at a given point in time.

MLSP was developed to provide estimates of the incidence and prevalence of lupus and related diseases in patients residing in Manhattan. Started in 2010, it is funded by the Centers for Disease Control and maintained by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and NYU School of Medicine.

Data was collected between January 2007 and December 2009. Patients were deemed as having Sjögren’s syndrome if they had received a diagnosis by any physician, had documentation of dry eyes or dry mouth, and tested positive for anti-SSA antibodies.

The mean age at diagnosis for women was 52.7 years, and 58.1 years for men. Overall, women were more prone to Sjögren’s syndrome, with incidence and prevalence rates six times higher than men, the team reported.

From 2007-2009, physicians diagnosed 138 new pSS cases in Manhattan, while rheumatologists reported 84 cases.

The age-adjusted incidence rate of physician-diagnosed and rheumatologist-diagnosed patients was 3.5 and 2.1 per 100,000 person-years.

Among women, significant differences were observed in the incidence rates among different races and ethnicity. Non-Hispanic Asian women had the highest incidence rate (10.5 per 100,000 person-years), followed by non-Hispanic white women (6.2), non-Hispanic black women (3.3), and Hispanic women (3.2).

However, race and ethnicity did not significantly impact the prevalence of primary Sjögren’s syndrome in this study population, the researchers reported.

Despite the significant differences in the incidence rates observed between different ethnicities, the researchers noted the limited information available on the classification of ethnic subpopulations among Asians and Hispanics.

“Given the already limited number of published studies on pSS [primary Sjögren’s syndrome] among Asians and Latinos, additional work is needed to better describe and understand the epidemiology of pSS among specific ethnic subpopulations,” they concluded.