Immunological Evidence for the Role of Mycobacteria in Sarcoidosis: A Meta-Analysis

Citation: Fang C, Huang H, Xu Z (2016) Immunological Evidence for the Role of Mycobacteria in Sarcoidosis: A Meta-Analysis. PLoS ONE 11(8): e0154716. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0154716
Published: August 1, 2016

Background: Sarcoidosis is a granulomatous disease, the etiology of which is currently unknown. The role of mycobacteria in the etiology of sarcoidosis has been extensively investigated. In this meta-analysis, we assessed the immunological evidence of the possible role of mycobacteria in the pathogenesis and development of sarcoidosis.
Methods: We performed a systematic search of relevant articles from PubMed, Embase and Cochrane Library databases published between January 1990 and October 2015. Data extracted from the articles were analyzed with Review Manager 5.3 (Cochrane Collaboration, Oxford, UK).
Results: In this meta-analysis, 13 case-control studies (733 participants) were considered eligible according to our criteria. Methodological quality was assessed using the Newcastle-Ottawa Scale (NOS). The positivity incidence of the immune response (either the cell-mediated response or humoral response) in sarcoidosis patients was significantly higher than that in controls, as determined using fixed-effects model. The odds ratio (OR) of the positivity incidence of T-cell response in the patients with sarcoidosis versus the controls with PPD- or unknown PPD status was 5.54 (95% CI 3.56–8.61); the ORs were 16.70 (95% CI 8.19–34.08) and 1.48 (95% CI 0.74–2.96) for the two subgroups with PPD- controls and unknown PPD status respectively. However, the OR of the positivity incidence in patients with sarcoidosis versus PPD+ controls (latent tuberculosis infection; LTBI) was 0.26 (95% 0.10–0.66). Regarding the humoral response, pooled analysis of the positivity incidence revealed an OR (95%CI) of 20.43 (5.53–75.53) for the patients with sarcoidosis versus controls; the ORs were 11.93 (95% CI 2.15–66.27) and 41.97 (95% CI 5.24–336.15) in two subgroups of controls with PPD- and unknown PPD statuses respectively. Data on heterogeneity and evidence of publication bias were examined.
Conclusions: This meta-analysis confirmed the existence of an association between mycobacteria (especially M.tuberculosis) and sarcoidosis. The current available evidence indicates that some insoluble mycobacterial antigens that preferentially within the body are involved in the pathogenesis of sarcoidosis rather than the whole mycobacteria and that they elicit a type IV immune response.


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