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Sjogren's syndrome linked to improperly functioning immune cells

Sjogren's syndrome is a rare condition that causes severe dry eyes and mouth and new research points to a link between the condition and improperly functioning natural killer cells. The study was conducted by the National Institute of Health and Medical Research in France and results were published in the Science Translational Medicinejournal. The study involved 38 people with Sjogren's and 30 healthy individuals. Researchers discovered that the natural killer cells in people with Sjogren's syndrome were significantly more active than the natural killer cells in healthy people. The natural killer cells in the Sjogren's patients alos had more NKp30 receptors, which could indicate that the individuals are more sensitive to incoming viruses. The role of natural killer cells is to protect against and to keep harmful things such as viruses and cancer away from the immune system and our bodies continually create new killer cells. While additional NKp30 receptors can protect against the harmful cells, they can also damage a person's own tissues. Damaged glands prevent the body from properly producing tears and saliva, which results in dry eyes and dry mouth. Sjogren's can eventually cause damage to other areas of the body including the thyroid, joints, kidneys, lungs, skin and nerves. Scientists are hopeful that this new discovery will lead to an effective treatment for Sjogren's.*

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