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Clin Exp Immunol. 2011 Oct;166(1):87-93. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2249.2011.04456.x.

In vitro and in vivo reactivity to fungal cell wall agents in sarcoidosis.

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Department for Respiratory and Allergic Diseases, the University Medical Centre Institute of Microbiology and Immunology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia Biofact Environmental Health Research Center, Lerum, Sweden.


Sarcoidosis is an inflammatory disease. Epidemiological and treatment studies suggest that fungi play a part in the pathogenesis. The aim of this work was to study the effect of fungal cell wall agents (FCWA) on the in vitro secretion of cytokines from peripheral blood monocytes from subjects with sarcoidosis and relate the results to fungal exposure at home and clinical findings. Subjects with sarcoidosis (n=22) and controls (n=20) participated. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells were stimulated with soluble or particulate β-glucan (S-glucan, P-glucan), chitin or lipopolysaccharide (LPS), whereafter tumour necrosis factor (TNF)-α, interleukin (IL)-6, IL-10 and IL-12 were measured. The severity of sarcoidosis was determined using a chest X-ray-based score. Serum cytokines (IL-2R, IL-6, IL-10 and IL-12) were determined. To measure domestic fungal exposure, air in the bedrooms was sampled on filters. N-acetylhexosaminidase (NAHA) on the filters was measured as a marker of fungal cell biomass. The induced secretion of cytokines was higher from peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) from subjects with sarcoidosis. P-glucan was more potent than S-glucan inducing a secretion. Chitin had a small effect. Among subjects with sarcoidosis there was a significant relation between the spontaneous PBMC production of IL-6, IL-10 and IL-12 and the NAHA levels at home. The P-glucan induced secretion of IL-12 was related to the duration of symptoms at the time of diagnosis. Their X-ray scores were related to an increased secretion of cytokines after stimulation with LPS or P-glucan. Subjects with sarcoidosis have a higher reactivity to FCWA in vitro and to home exposure. The influence of FCWA on inflammatory cells and their interference with the inflammatory defense mechanisms in terms of cytokine secretion could be important factors for the development of sarcoidosis.

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