What is the pathophysiology of sarcoidosis in neurosarcoidosis?

Updated: Nov 13, 2018
  • Author: Gabriel Bucurescu, MD, MS; Chief Editor: Tarakad S Ramachandran, MBBS, MBA, MPH, FAAN, FACP, FAHA, FRCP, FRCPC, FRS, LRCP, MRCP, MRCS  more...
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Sarcoidosis primarily affects the lymphoreticular system, with prominent cervical and mediastinal lymphadenopathy (eg, perihilar and peritracheal nodes). There is also involvement of the smaller scattered lymphatic collections in solid organs (eg, spleen, liver) and lymphoid tissue surrounding glandular organs such as the parotid and lacrimal glands.

Debate continues as to whether sarcoidosis results from a dysfunctional immune system or a secondary response to environmental antigens. Sarcoid granulomas may be seen in solid organs such as liver, kidney, and spleen. Neurosarcoidosis results from nervous system involvement by sarcoid granulomas. The lesion consists of lymphocytes and mononuclear phagocytes surrounding a noncaseating epithelioid cell granuloma.

The clinical features of neurosarcoidosis depend on the site of neuraxis involved. While neurosarcoidosis most commonly affects the central nervous system, a subset of patients demonstrate predominantly peripheral nervous system involvement. This may manifest as a myopathy and/or a peripheral neuropathy depending on the distribution of the granulomas.

The true incidence of peripheral neuropathy in sarcoidosis is unknown, as a significant number of asymptomatic patients with sarcoidosis have subclinical peripheral nerve involvement.

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