[TNFα blocking agents and sarcoidosis: an update]

Rev Med Interne. 2010 Dec;31(12):828-37. doi: 10.1016/j.revmed.2010.02.007. Epub 2010 May 26.
[Article in French]


Increased production of TNFα by alveolar macrophages and involvement of TNFα in granuloma formation suggest that this cytokine is involved in the pathophysiology of sarcoidosis. The three available TNFα blocking agents have been tested in sarcoidosis refractory to corticosteroids or immunosuppressive drugs. Data are available from isolated case reports or limited series of patients treated in open label trials with favourable issue with anti-TNFα monoclonal antibodies. Two randomized placebo controlled studies evaluated the efficacy of infliximab in pulmonary and extra-pulmonary sarcoidosis, showing that infliximab improves significantly extra-pulmonary disease. There is no significant difference between infliximab and placebo in the treatment of pulmonary manifestations. Etanercept showed no efficacy for treating ocular sarcoidosis in a controlled trial and for pulmonary disease in an open label trial. Paradoxical cases of proven sarcoidosis have been reported in patients receiving anti-TNFα agents for chronic inflammatory rheumatic diseases. A literature review identified 28 cases, including 16 with etanercept, eight with infliximab and four with adalimumab. Although these cases were mainly reported with etanercept, paradoxical sarcoidosis has been reported with the three available anti-TNFα agents, suggesting a class effect. Changes in the cytokine balance may be involved in these cases of induced sarcoidosis, which must be known by the clinician.

Publication types

  • English Abstract

MeSH terms

  • Adalimumab
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / therapeutic use*
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Etanercept
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin G / therapeutic use*
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Infliximab
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Receptors, Tumor Necrosis Factor / therapeutic use*
  • Sarcoidosis / drug therapy*
  • Sarcoidosis / physiopathology
  • Sarcoidosis, Pulmonary / drug therapy
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / antagonists & inhibitors*


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Immunosuppressive Agents
  • Receptors, Tumor Necrosis Factor
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Infliximab
  • Adalimumab
  • Etanercept