What causes sarcoidosis?

Curr Opin Pulm Med. 2002 Sep;8(5):429-34. doi: 10.1097/00063198-200209000-00015.


Limited but encouraging progress has been made over the last several years in our understanding of the etiology of sarcoidosis as a result of recent investments in epidemiologic, immunologic, and molecular biologic studies. A recent US multicenter study of sarcoidosis found few environmental or occupational exposures associated with a two-fold or higher risk of development of sarcoidosis, suggesting noninfectious exposures play a small, if any, role in causing systemic sarcoidosis. In contrast, recent studies have linked infectious agents including mycobacterial and propionibacterial organisms with sarcoidosis. The association of sarcoidosis with the use of Th1-promoting biologic response modifiers is consistent with a central role for enhanced Th1 immune responses in the pathogenesis of sarcoidosis. Given evidence for a genetic predisposition to sarcoidosis, these findings suggest that the etiology of systemic sarcoidosis is linked to genetically determined enhanced Th1 immune responses to a limited number of microbial pathogens.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Environmental Exposure*
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Humans
  • Mycobacterium
  • Occupational Exposure*
  • Propionibacterium
  • Sarcoidosis / etiology*
  • Sarcoidosis / immunology
  • Sarcoidosis / microbiology
  • Th1 Cells / immunology