According to a story from The Rheumatologist, a recent study of neurosarcoidosis is providing new information into how this disease develops, as well as how it can be categorized. This research was spearheaded by a team from University College London. It is quite rare for sarcoidosis to affect the brain and nervous system, but with more potential therapies available, it is important to more clearly identify the pathology of neurosarcoidosis and its clinical presentation.
Neurosarcoidosis refers to sarcoidosis that affects the nervous system. It is condition in which inflammatory clumps of immune system cells called macrophages appear in the brain and spinal cord. The cause of neurosarcoidosis, and sarcoidosis in general, is unknown, but some scientists posit that it could be an autoimmune disease. Family members of patients with the disease are also at greater risk, suggesting the possibility of a genetic component. Symptoms include abnormalities of the cranial nerves (including the face), vision problems, vertigo, hearing loss, weakness of the tongue, weakness of the shoulders, and difficulty swallowing. Psychiatric problems can appear in some cases. There are a variety of drugs, such as steroids and chemotherapy agents, that have been used to treat the disease. To learn more about neurosarcoidosis, click here.
About The Study
A total of 166 patients were studied, with about a third displayed radiculopathy and neuropathies; the rest had involvement of the brain and spinal cord. Imaging and other examinations revealed significant variability in how the illness presents itself, suggesting the need for further classification of neurosarcoidosis into different subvariants. For example patients with leptomeningeal disease displayed the most severe problems, and those with pachymeningeal involvement had more significant imaging features but did not have psychiatric symptoms. Meanwhile, changes to cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) were present in about 70 percent of patients, even in cases where imaging appeared normal.
More Study Needed
This may seem like a jumble of information, but for researchers it is highly important. The variability in features calls for classifying the various imaging and clinical presentations that appeared in the study. In addition, monitoring CSF involvement could be valuable in understanding the severity of individual cases. Overall, this study was a step in learning more about the disease, but much more study is warranted. Learn more about the study here.