Sarcoidosis, a multisystem granulomatous disorder, has historically been classified as Th1-driven disease. However, increasing data demonstrate a key role of Th17-cell plasticity in granuloma formation and maintenance.In Löfgren's syndrome (LS), an acute and distinct phenotype of sarcoidosis with a favorable outcome, differences in Th17-lineage cell subsets, cytokine expression and T-cell suppressive mechanisms may account for differences in clinical presentation as well as prognosis compared to non-LS sarcoidosis. In contrast with LS, up to 20% of non-LS sarcoidosis patients may progress to irreversible pulmonary fibrosis. In non-LS sarcoidosis patients, IFN-γ-producing Th17.1-cells appear to be more pathogenic and possibly linked to disease progression, while a broader range of cytokines is found in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) in LS patients. Differences in Cytotoxic T-lymphocyte antigen 4 (CTLA-4) expression on Th17-cells and regulatory T-cells (Treg) could contribute to Th17-cell pathogenicity and consequently to either disease resolution or ongoing inflammation in sarcoidosis. Furthermore, several genes and SNPs are associated with disease susceptibility and outcome in sarcoidosis, the majority of which are involved in antigen presentation, T-cell activation or regulation of T-cell survival. Novel insights into the role of Th17-cells in the pathogenesis of both LS and non-LS sarcoidosis will unravel pathogenic and benign Th17-lineage cell function and drivers of Th17-cell plasticity. This will also help identify new treatment strategies for LS and non-LS sarcoidosis patients by altering Th17-cell activation, suppress conversion into more pathogenic subtypes, or influence cytokine signaling towards a beneficial signature of Th17-lineage cells.In this review, we summarize new insights into Th17-cell plasticity in the complex pathogenesis of sarcoidosis and connect these cells to the different disease phenotypes, discuss the role of genetic susceptibility and autoimmunity and focus on possible treatment strategies.

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Journal of Autoimmunity
Department of Pulmonology

Miedema, J., Kaiser, Y. (Ylva), Broos, C., Wijsenbeek-Lourens, M., Grunewald, J. (Johan), & Kool, M. (2018). Th17-lineage cells in pulmonary sarcoidosis and Löfgren's syndrome: Friend or foe?. Journal of Autoimmunity. doi:10.1016/j.jaut.2017.12.012