Objectives. Environmental factors in the aetiology of primary Sjogren's syndrome (pSS) are largely unknown. Host-microbiome interaction at mucosal surfaces is presumed to be involved in the aetiopathogenesis of pSS. Here, we assessed whether the microbiome of the buccal mucosa is specific for pSS compared with symptom-controls.
Methods. The bacterial composition of buccal swab samples from 37 pSS patients, 86 non-SS sicca patients (with similar dryness symptoms to pSS patients, but not fulfilling the classification criteria) and 24 healthy controls (HCs) was determined with 16S rRNA sequencing. Multivariate Association with Linear Models was used to find associations between individual taxa and pSS, taking into account smoking and dental status. Associations were replicated in a general population cohort (n = 103).
Results. The buccal mucosa microbiome of pSS and non-SS sicca patients both differed from HCs. A higher Firmicutes/Proteobacteria ratio was characteristic for both pSS and non-SS sicca patients. Disease status (pSS, nonSS sicca, HCs) and salivary secretion rate contributed almost equally to the variation in bacterial composition between individuals (3.8 and 4.3%, respectively). Two taxa were associated with pSS compared with non-SS sicca patients and 19 compared with HCs. When salivary secretion rate was taken into account, no taxon was associated with pSS compared with non-SS sicca. Twelve of the 19 pSS-associated taxa were correlated with salivary secretion.
Conclusion. Dysbiosis of the buccal mucosa microbiome in pSS patients resembles that of symptom-controls. The buccal mucosa microbiome in pSS patients is determined by a combination of reduced salivary secretion and disease-specific factors.