The lung-draining mediastinal lymph nodes (MLNs) are currently widely used to diagnose sarcoidosis. We previously reported that T-helper (Th) 17.1 cells are responsible for the exaggerated interferon-γ production in sarcoidosis lungs. In this study, we aimed to investigate 1) whether Th17.1 cells are also increased in the MLNs of sarcoidosis patients and 2) whether frequencies of the Th17.1 cells at diagnosis may correlate with disease progression.MLN cells from treatment-naive pulmonary sarcoidosis patients (n=17) and healthy controls (n=22) and peripheral blood mononuclear cells (n=34) and bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) (n=36) from sarcoidosis patients were examined for CD4+ T-cell subset proportions using flow cytometry.Higher proportions of Th17.1 cells were detected in sarcoidosis MLNs than in control MLNs. Higher Th17.1 cell proportions were found in sarcoidosis BALF compared with MLNs and peripheral blood. Furthermore, BALF Th17.1 cell proportions were significantly higher in patients developing chronic disease than in patients undergoing resolution within 2 years of clinical follow-up.These data suggest that Th17.1 cell proportions in pulmonary sarcoidosis can be evaluated as a diagnostic and/or prognostic marker in clinical practice and could serve as a new therapeutic target.
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