Published: 20-09-2022 15:49 | Updated: 20-09-2022 16:47

Johannes Mofors awarded for best dissertation

Portrait of Johannes Mofors.
Johannes Mofors. Photo: Private.

Johannes Mofor's thesis "Risk factors and comorbidity in primary Sjögren's syndrome" was named the best thesis of the year by the Swedish Rheumatological Association (SRF).

Congratulations Johannes! You won the Swedish Rheumatological Association's (SRF) prize for best dissertation in 2022.

What is your dissertation about and what were the most important results?

– The aims of my thesis were to study the role of environmental factors in the pathogenesis of primary Sjögren’s syndrome, and to study comorbidity in patients with the disease.

We observed a clear association between infections and subsequent development of Sjögren’s syndrome. Notably, this association was even more prominent in patients who developed anti-Ro/SSA and anti-La/SSB antibodies. Exposure to smoking could however not be linked to an increased risk of the disease, despite the well-known association with development of other rheumatic diseases. Rather, we observed that individuals who developed Sjögren's syndrome were more prone to stop smoking during the decades preceding diagnosis. This finding may indicate that the appearance of very early symptoms of the disease leads to the discontinuation of smoking.

The studies also showed that individuals with Sjögren’s syndrome had a significantly increased risk of myocardial infarction, cerebral infarction, and venous thromboembolism. Moreover, the results indicate that Ro/SSA and La/SSB autoantibodies demark the subgroup of patients with the highest risk of cardiovascular comorbidity. Similarly, an increased risk of multiple myeloma was observed in patients with Sjögren’s syndrome, which was confined to individuals with Ro/SSA and La/SSB autoantibodies.

How can the results be used, do you see any potential applications?

– The findings indicate that infections contribute to the development of Sjögren’s syndrome. Furthermore, the presence or absence of Ro/SSA and La/SSB autoantibodies discriminate between two distinct patient subgroups, and is a useful parameter for predicting the risk of comorbidity.

What is the next step for you?

– I am currently doing a postdoctoral visit at Harvard Medical School, where I am studying immune mechanisms in cancer using so-called single cell RNA sequencing techniques. My ambition is to continue research on autoimmune diseases.

Johannes wrote his thesis at the Department of medicine, Solna, Division of Rheumatology.