AIM: To determine the correlation between interleukin 12 (IL-12) expression and Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) in Sjögren syndrome. METHODS: Indirect immunohistochemical technique, enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), and immunoblot analysis were used to investigate IL-12 expression by EBV activation, using 13 surgical specimens and four B cell lines. RESULTS: Marked expression of IL-12 was found in the epithelial cells and the infiltrating B cells of salivary gland tissues from patients with Sjögren syndrome (six of 10 cases), but not in those from normal individuals (none of three cases). A striking topographic correlation between IL-12 and EBV was found. In addition, levels of IL-12 production by B cell lines were clearly enhanced by EBV activation in vitro. CONCLUSIONS: IL-12 expression closely reflects the intracellular event of EBV activation in Sjögren syndrome, and may contribute to the T helper cell type 1 (Th1) cytokine overexpression seen in this disease.
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