Production of cytokines in sarcoid lymph nodes: preferential expression of interleukin-1 beta and interferon-gamma genes

Hum Pathol. 1992 Mar;23(3):317-23. doi: 10.1016/0046-8177(92)90114-i.


Sarcoidosis is a chronic granulomatous disease that may be considered to be a human model for the delayed-type hypersensitivity reaction. The expression of cytokine genes in organs displaying sarcoid granulomas was analyzed by in situ hybridization with several cytokine probes using biopsies from 11 sarcoid lymph nodes. We detected cells expressing interleukin-1 beta (IL-1 beta), tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha), IL-6, IL-2, and interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma) genes in all lymph nodes. The major finding of this study was that cytokine genes are independently expressed. Of the monokine genes, the IL-1 beta gene was preferentially expressed. The distribution of cells containing IL-1 beta mRNA was characterized by their amalgamation in clusters inside sarcoid granulomas. Cells expressing the TNF-alpha gene were located exclusively inside granulomas and were always scattered. Cells expressing the IL-6 gene or the IL-1 alpha gene were found scattered inside sarcoid granulomas and in the residual lymphoid tissue. The number of cells expressing the IL-1 beta gene was significantly higher than that of cells expressing TNF-alpha gene (P = .001), IL-6 gene (P = .007), or IL-1 alpha gene (P less than .001). Of the cells expressing lymphokine genes, those expressing the IFN-gamma gene were 31.9 (+/- 7.6) times more frequent than those expressing the IL-2 gene (P less than .001). Cells containing IFN-gamma mRNA were detected mainly inside sarcoid granulomas, whereas cells containing IL-2 mRNA were randomly distributed. These results show that each monokine gene or lymphokine gene can be independently expressed in vivo. The high expression level of the IL-1 beta gene and the IFN-gamma gene inside granulomas may be specific to delayed-type hypersensitivity immune reactions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cytokines / biosynthesis*
  • Cytokines / genetics
  • Gene Expression*
  • Humans
  • Interferon-gamma / biosynthesis
  • Interferon-gamma / genetics
  • Interleukin-1 / biosynthesis
  • Interleukin-1 / genetics
  • Lymphatic Diseases / genetics
  • Lymphatic Diseases / metabolism*
  • Nucleic Acid Hybridization
  • RNA, Messenger / analysis
  • Sarcoidosis / genetics
  • Sarcoidosis / metabolism*


  • Cytokines
  • Interleukin-1
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Interferon-gamma