Purpose of review: Sarcoidosis is a disease caused by a complex combination of genetic susceptibility, immune networks and infectious and/or environmental agents. The onset and phenotypic variability of sarcoidosis remain poorly elucidated, not only due to the lack of clearly identified causes, but also because it is widely considered that no reliable model of this disease is available. In this review, we discuss the various models of granulomatous diseases in order to challenge this assertion.
Recent findings: A large number of models of granulomatous diseases are available, both cellular models used to study the natural history of granulomas and experimental animal models mostly developed in rodents.
Summary: Although none of the available models fully reproduces sarcoidosis, most of them generate various data supporting key concepts. Selected models with a high level of confidence among those already published may provide various pieces of the sarcoidosis jigsaw puzzle, whereas clinical data can provide other elements. A 'systems biology' approach for modelling may be a way of piecing together the various pieces of the puzzle. Finally, experimental models and a systemic approach should be considered to be tools for preclinical evaluation of the efficacy of drugs prior to testing in clinical trials.