Sarcoid Lymphadenopathy

Sarcoid Lymphadenopathy

Sa A. Wang, MD

The lymph node parenchyma is substantially effaced by multiple granulomas.

Chest radiograph shows bilateral enlarged hilar lymph nodes. Fine linear and reticular opacities are present in the perihilar lung parenchyma.



  • Multisystemic granulomatous disease of unknown etiology

  • Diagnosis of exclusion


Exact Etiology and Pathogenesis Unknown

  • Occupational and environmental exposure

    • Inorganic particles, insecticides, and moldy environments

  • Probable role of genetics as shown by assessment of major histocompatibility complex

    • Positive association with HLA-A1, -B8, and -DR3

    • Negative association with HLA-B12 and -DR4

  • Possible role of infectious agents

    • Mycobacterium tuberculosis

    • Propionibacterium acnes

  • T-cell abnormalities

    • Increased CD4(+) T cells and CD4(+) and CD25(+) regulatory T- cells

    • Decreased CD1d-restricted natural killer cells

    • Oligoclonal TCR-αβ T-cell repertoire

  • Cytokines: Increased interferon-γ and interleukin-2



  • Incidence

    • 10-20 per 100,000 population

  • Age

    • All ages; peak 20-39 years

  • Gender

    • Female preponderance

  • Ethnicity

    • Lifetime risk in USA is 2.4% in African-Americans and 0.85% in Caucasians

    • More likely to be chronic and fatal in African-Americans


  • Constitutional symptoms are common

    • Fatigue, malaise, fever, night sweats, and weight loss

  • Symptoms related to organ involvement

    • Lungs: Dyspnea and cough

    • Heart: Loss of ventricular function and sudden death

    • Eyes: Keratoconjunctivitis, uveitis, retinal vasculitis

    • Skin: Maculopapular eruptions, nodules, plaque-like lesions

    • Erythema nodosum

      • Painful, red, subcutaneous lesions on anterior surface of legs

      • Associated with sarcoidosis but not specific

    • Musculoskeletal: Arthritis

    • Kidneys and electrolytes: Abnormal calcium metabolism

      • Extrarenal production of calcitriol by activated macrophages

    • Nervous system: Central and peripheral nervous system can be affected

      • Hypothalamic hypopituitarism

      • Diabetes insipidus

      • Lymphocytic meningitis

    • Other organs: Symptoms directly related to organ involvement

      • Endocrine system, reproductive system, gastrointestinal tract

  • Lofgren syndrome: Occurs in subset of patients

    • Erythema nodosum, hilar lymphadenopathy, migratory polyarthralgias, and fever

  • In approximately 50% of cases, patients are asymptomatic when 1st diagnosed

    • Incidental detection by radiographic studies

    • Most children are asymptomatic

Laboratory Tests

  • Anemia, leukopenia, and thrombocytopenia

    • Uncommon but can be observed

  • Erythrocyte sedimentation rate is often increased

  • Hypercalciuria and hypercalcemia

  • Liver involvement results in increased serum alkaline phosphatase levels

  • Serum angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) increased in 75% patients

  • D-dimer levels can be increased

  • Bronchoalveolar lavage

    • Flow cytometry immunophenotypic analysis

      • Increased lymphocyte percentage

      • Increased CD4:CD8 ratio

      • Decreased CD3(+), CD56(+) cytotoxic T cells

  • Kveim test, intradermal injection


  • Indications for treatment

    • Most patients do not require therapy

      • Asymptomatic patients with low stage of disease have high rate of spontaneous remission

    • Indication for treatment of pulmonary sarcoidosis

      • Deteriorating lung function

      • Worsening symptoms

      • Progressive radiographic changes

    • Indications for treatment of extrapulmonary sarcoidosis

      • Ocular, neurologic, myocardial, or renal sarcoidosis or hypercalcemia need treatment to avoid consequences

      • Vision loss, impaired nervous system function, fatal arrhythmias, or renal damage

  • Treatment modalities

    • Oral or inhaled glucocorticoids

    • Other treatment modalities are largely experimental

      • Immunosuppressive and cytotoxic drugs: Methotrexate, cyclophosphamide, cyclosporin

      • TNF-α blockers: Infliximab, etanercept

      • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents

    • Heart and lung transplantation


  • Varies from patient to patient and depends on

    • Symptomatic vs. asymptomatic

    • Organ involvement and severity

    • Proper treatment received


Radiographic Findings

Jul 8, 2016 | Posted by in PATHOLOGY & LABORATORY MEDICINE | Comments Off on Sarcoid Lymphadenopathy
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