Is there a role for microorganisms in the pathogenesis of sarcoidosis?

J Intern Med. 2003 Jan;253(1):4-17. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2796.2003.01073.x.


Sarcoidosis is a granulomatous disease that has the immunopathological features of being antigen-driven. It is a complex disease that appears to arise from the interaction of one or more triggers with an immunologically predisposed host. Previous reports of familial clustering and varying prevalence of sarcoidosis in different populations could reflect differences in ethnic predisposition or differences in local environmental exposures. This review focuses specifically on these areas that have been the subjects of intensive investigation recently. Specific focus is provided on the issue of an infective trigger and highlights popular candidates. It is concluded that microbes are a likely trigger (but not as an infection) in a genetically predisposed individual and that this initial event culminates in the sarcoidosis granulomatous response.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Infections / complications*
  • Chemokines / genetics
  • Cytokines / genetics
  • Genes, MHC Class I / genetics
  • Genes, MHC Class II / genetics
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Humans
  • Polymorphism, Genetic
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell / genetics
  • Sarcoidosis / genetics
  • Sarcoidosis / microbiology*
  • Sarcoidosis / virology
  • Virus Diseases / complications*


  • Chemokines
  • Cytokines
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell