High prevalence of Mycobacterium tuberculosis DNA in biopsies from sarcoidosis patients from Catalonia, Spain

Respiration. 2006;73(1):20-6. doi: 10.1159/000087688. Epub 2005 Aug 17.


Background: Sarcoidosis is a systemic granulomatous disease of unknown etiology. The presence of mycobacterial nucleic acid components in patients with sarcoidosis has been demonstrated with varying degrees of success.

Objectives: The aim of this study was to estimate the presence of Mycobacterium tuberculosis DNA in tissues from sarcoidosis patients, in Catalonia, Spain, as well as to assess the long-term clinical course in these patients.

Methods: Fifty-eight paraffin-embedded tissue biopsies corresponding to cases of sarcoidosis (n = 23), lung neoplasm (n = 23), and lung tuberculosis (n = 12) available in 1996 were analyzed in a retrospective study by means of a nested polymerase chain reaction using primers corresponding to the insertion element IS6110 of M. tuberculosis complex. For greater sensitivity, Southern blot hybridization was performed. Clinical data were recorded prior to and after PCR analysis (follow-up reported until 2002).

Results: M. tuberculosis DNA was present in 9 out of 23 sarcoidosis biopsies (39%), in 1 out of 23 control patients (4%) (p < 0.01), and in all tissue samples from the 12 control patients with tuberculosis. To date, none of these sarcoidosis patients has developed tuberculosis over a mean (+/-SD) follow-up period of 11 (+/-3.4) years.

Conclusion: In our setting, M. tuberculosis DNA is present in tissue biopsies of significantly more sarcoidosis patients than controls. However, these results do not demonstrate causality, although they may suggest a link between M. tuberculosis infection and sarcoidosis in some cases. Follow-up of these patients suggests that M. tuberculosis-DNA-positive sarcoidosis patients are not at greater risk of developing tuberculosis than M. tuberculosis-DNA-negative patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antigens, Bacterial / immunology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Comorbidity
  • DNA, Bacterial / analysis*
  • Female
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / genetics*
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / immunology
  • Sarcoidosis / epidemiology*
  • Sarcoidosis / genetics
  • Sarcoidosis / immunology
  • Sarcoidosis / microbiology*
  • Spain / epidemiology
  • Tuberculosis / epidemiology*


  • Antigens, Bacterial
  • DNA, Bacterial