TH1/TH2 and TC1/TC2 profiles in peripheral blood and bronchoalveolar lavage fluid cells in pulmonary sarcoidosis

J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2001 Feb;107(2):337-44. doi: 10.1067/mai.2001.112273.


Background: Sarcoidosis is thought to be a type-1 cytokine-mediated disorder. However, few data are available on the profiles of cytokine expression by TH cells at the single-cell level, as assessed by intracellular cytokine flow cytometry. Additionally, it remains to be determined whether the balance of TC1 and TC2 cells can be altered in sarcoidosis.

Objective: The aim of this study was to evaluate the TH1/TH2 and TC1/TC2 balances in sarcoidosis.

Methods: Using triple-color flow cytometry and phorbol 12-myristate acetate/ionomycin stimulation, we measured the production of the intracellular cytokines IFN-gamma and IL-4 in CD4+ and CD8+ T cells separately, which were obtained from peripheral blood and bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) of 20 patients with sarcoidosis, and compared their cytokine expressions with those of 10 normal subjects.

Results: Under unstimulated conditions, there were no significant differences in the proportion of cytokine-producing CD4+ or CD8+ T cells in peripheral blood or BALF between patients with sarcoidosis and normal control subjects. On stimulation with phorbol 12-myristate acetate/ionomycin for 4 hours, in BALF of the patients, but not in peripheral blood, we found a significant increase in the percentage of IFN-gamma-producing CD4+ T cells and a decrease in the percentage of IL-4-producing CD4+ T cells, resulting in a 3.5-fold higher ratio of IFN-gamma/IL-4-producing CD4+ T cells compared with that found in normal subjects. In contrast, no difference was found in the proportions of cytokine-producing CD8+ T cells or the ratio of IFN-gamma/IL-4-producing CD8+ T cells in either the peripheral blood or BALF between the patients and normal subjects.

Conclusions: These findings suggest that the prominent shift toward a type-1 phenotype may occur in CD4+ T-cell populations but not in CD8+ T-cell populations in the affected organs of sarcoidosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bronchoalveolar Lavage Fluid / cytology*
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / classification*
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interferon-gamma / metabolism
  • Interleukin-4 / metabolism
  • Ionomycin / pharmacology
  • Lung Diseases / blood*
  • Lung Diseases / pathology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Sarcoidosis / blood*
  • Sarcoidosis / pathology*
  • Tetradecanoylphorbol Acetate / pharmacology
  • Th1 Cells
  • Th2 Cells


  • Interleukin-4
  • Ionomycin
  • Interferon-gamma
  • Tetradecanoylphorbol Acetate