The regenerating gene (Reg) was originally isolated from regenerating rat pancreatic islets and revealed recently to constitute a multi-gene family in humans. REG Iα protein is known to be overexpressed not only in various human inflammatory diseases but also in various experimental models of inflammation in animal tissues. However, its involvement in pathophysiology of the minor salivary gland (MSG) is not clear. We investigated REG Iα expression in the MSG of patients with primary Sjögren's syndrome (SS) and assessed its role in ductal epithelial cell proliferation in such tissues. Lip biopsy specimens were obtained from 40 patients with primary SS and examined using immunohistochemistry for REG Iα protein, Ki67 and single-strand DNA (ssDNA). The relationships among clinicopathological factors and expression of REG Iα protein, Ki67 and ssDNA in the MSG were then analysed. REG Iα protein was expressed rarely in ductal epithelial cells of the normal MSG but was apparently overexpressed in those of patients with SS. The labelling indices for both Ki67 and ssDNA in the ductal cells of the MSGs were significantly higher in SS patients than in controls. Moreover, these labelling indices were significantly higher in REG Iα-positive than in negative SS patients. REG Iα protein may play a role in the regeneration of ductal epithelial cells in the MSGs of patients with SS
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