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Cause of Sarcoidosis

Over the years, many possible and different causes of sarcoidosis have been hypothesized and investigated in detail. Bacteria, viruses, allergic or autoimmune reactions (as in rheumatoid arthritis, for example) and/or hereditary factors could all contribute to the development of sarcoidosis, possibly in combination.

Anyone can get sarcoidosis but in some regions, in some ethnic groups and even in some families sarcoidosis is more common than in others. This suggests that, although clear hereditary factors are lacking, a relationship with certain genes and environmental factors may be assumed, even though there is no hard evidence for this either.

Others hypothesize that the disease is a reaction to coniferous pollen (based on the high frequency of occurrence in Scandinavia) or certain chemicals (such as beryllium), but this has never been confirmed in targeted research.

Research has focused primarily on those bacteria (tuberculosis and leprosy bacteria) or substances such as talc or beryllium that are known to cause inflammation similar to granulomas. No evidence for these assumptions has ever been found to date.

The current idea is that people who have inherited a genetic predisposition to sarcoidosis develop sarcoidosis through exposure to an outside ‘trigger’. The fact that people with sarcoidosis often have eyes, lungs and skin affected also seems to support this since all these organs are in close contract with the outside. Examples of possible triggers are bacteria, viruses or occupational substances.

Fortunately, there is still a lot of scientific research being done into the cause of sarcoidosis. This is also happening in the Netherlands.

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