Activation of mucosal-associated invariant T cells in the lungs of sarcoidosis patients

Sci Rep. 2019 Sep 12;9(1):13181. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-49903-6.


Although the pathogenesis of sarcoidosis is not fully understood, immunological characterization has elucidated highly polarized expression of the type 1 T helper cell response. Mucosal-associated invariant T (MAIT) cells are innate T cells that recognize bacterial riboflavin and rapidly produce cytokines such as interferon γ and tumor necrosis factor α. We prospectively evaluated the proportion of MAIT cells and the expression levels of cell surface markers in peripheral blood from 40 sarcoidosis patients and 28 healthy controls. MAIT cells in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) were also examined in 12 sarcoidosis patients. In peripheral blood, the proportion of MAIT cells was lower (P = 0.0002), but the expression levels of CD69 and programmed death 1 on MAIT cells were higher in sarcoidosis patients than in healthy controls. Moreover, CD69 expression levels were significantly correlated with clinical biomarkers. Sarcoidosis patients with parenchymal infiltration in the lungs showed a significantly higher proportion and number of MAIT cells in BALF compared to patients without parenchymal infiltration. CD69 expression levels on MAIT cells in BALF were higher than levels in peripheral blood. The activation status of MAIT cells might reflect the disease activity of sarcoidosis. Therefore, it is a potential target for sarcoidosis treatment.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antigens, CD / immunology
  • Antigens, Differentiation, T-Lymphocyte / immunology
  • Bronchoalveolar Lavage
  • Cytokines / immunology
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation / immunology
  • Humans
  • Lectins, C-Type / immunology
  • Lung / immunology*
  • Lung / pathology
  • Lymphocyte Activation*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mucosal-Associated Invariant T Cells / immunology*
  • Mucosal-Associated Invariant T Cells / pathology
  • Sarcoidosis, Pulmonary / immunology*
  • Sarcoidosis, Pulmonary / pathology


  • Antigens, CD
  • Antigens, Differentiation, T-Lymphocyte
  • CD69 antigen
  • Cytokines
  • Lectins, C-Type