How This Remarkable Research Will Lead To Better Sarcoidosis Diagnoses

If you have an autoimmune disease, you probably know that there’s a lot of overlap between all the different autoimmune diseases, including symptoms, specialists, and treatments (thank goodness for off-label uses of medication!).

In fact, it’s not uncommon to be misdiagnosed with one autoimmune disease and then later find out you actually have a different one!


Sarcoidosis is a particularly tricky autoimmune/autoinflammatory disease. It affects multiple parts of the body that are common to many autoimmune diseases:

  • Lungs
  • Skin
  • Liver
  • Kidneys
  • Heart
  • Nervous system
  • Musculoskeletal

So, how are you supposed to tell different autoimmune diseases apart?!

Well, researchers in Munich, Germany have found a promising new marker that may help doctors quickly answer that question and accurately diagnose sarcoidosis.

The researchers have isolated a specific molecule called “slan” (hey, we can pronounce this one!) that helps them determine subgroups of white blood cells, also called monocytes.

Monocytes are a type of white blood cell that may turn into macrophages, or specialized cells that “eat” damaged or dead cells.
Source: analyzing many different blood samples from people living with sarcoidosis, they were able to determine a specific subtype of monocyte that was common to all of the samples. That means, one particular type of white blood cell was found in every person who had sarcoidosis.

And what’s so special about this cell anyway? Well, it is “positive for CD16 and negative for slan.” This particular cell is absent from normal blood samples. The researchers’ conclusion? This monocyte might play a key role in sarcoidosis.

They also studied monocytes in people who have HDLS (which destroys neurons in the brain). They found that a particular monocyte, which is positive for CD16 and positive for slan, was absent from their blood samples. Their conclusion: This monocyte might have a key function in normal brain function.

So what does this research mean for you?

Besides learning more about monocytes than you ever cared to know, the researchers believe this discovery may lead to a greater understanding of how these different diseases behave.

That could potentially lead to more effective treatments and faster, more accurate ways to get a diagnosis. Now that is something I’m happy to learn!

Farrah Fontaine

Farrah Fontaine

As a child, Farrah Fontaine always knew she wasn't normal. Part of her family descends from the ancient Silk Road, which made her stand out in the Great White North. That's why she wants to give voice to the voiceless so they know they're not alone.

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