The lacrimal exocrinopathy of primary Sjögren’s syndrome (pSS) is one of the main causes of severe dry eye syndrome and a burden for patients. Early recognition and treatment could prevent irreversible damage to lacrimal glands. The aim of this study was to find biomarkers in tears, using metabolomics and data mining approaches, in patients with newly-diagnosed pSS compared to other causes of dry eye syndrome.
A prospective cohort of 40 pSS and 40 non-pSS Sicca patients with dryness was explored through a standardized targeted metabolomic approach using liquid chromatography coupled with mass spectrometry. A metabolomic signature predictive of the pSS status was sought out using linear (logistic regression with elastic-net regularization) and non-linear (random forests) machine learning architectures, after splitting the studied population into training, validation and test sets.
Among the 104 metabolites accurately measured in tears, we identified a discriminant signature composed of nine metabolites (two amino acids: serine, aspartate; one biogenic amine: dopamine; six lipids: Lysophosphatidylcholine C16:1, C18:1, C18:2, sphingomyelin C16:0 and C22:3, and the phoshatidylcholine diacyl PCaa42:4), with robust performances (ROC-AUC = 0.83) for predicting the pSS status. Adjustment for age, sex and anti-SSA antibodies did not disrupt the link between the metabolomic signature and the pSS status. The non-lipidic components also remained specific for pSS regardless of the dryness severity.
Our results reveal a metabolomic signature for tears that distinguishes pSS from other dry eye syndromes and further highlight nine key metabolites of potential interest for early diagnosis and therapeutics of pSS.

Copyright © 2021. Published by Elsevier Inc.