Background: Although some studies have reported the presence of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTb) DNA in tissues affected by sarcoidosis, the data are conflicting. The aim of this study was to collect prospectively tissue from patients with sarcoidosis in whom tuberculosis had been excluded, and to use polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to search for DNA sequences specific for MTb.
Methods: Fresh tissue samples (node or lung biopsy) taken from 23 patients with newly diagnosed sarcoidosis, 10 with other respiratory disease, and four patients with culture positive tuberculosis were analysed using PCR to amplify a 123 bp fragment of IS6110, the insertion element present in MTb, and nested PCR to further amplify an 85 bp sequence within the 123 bp product. DNA was also extracted from formalin fixed tissue from eight additional patients with sarcoidosis.
Results: MTb DNA was not detected in any of the tissue samples from patients with sarcoidosis or other respiratory disease but was found in all four patients with tuberculosis.
Conclusions: This study has shown the absence of MTb DNA in lymph node and lung biopsy samples from patients with sarcoidosis. MTb is therefore unlikely to be a factor in the pathogenesis of this disease.