© 2016 The Author(s). Background: During the last few years, investigators have debated the role that infectious agents may have in sarcoidosis pathogenesis. With the emergence of new molecular biology techniques, several studies have been conducted; therefore, we performed a meta-analysis in order to better explain this possible association. Methods: This review was conducted in accordance with the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) statement from the Cochrane collaboration guidelines. Four different databases (Medline, Scopus, Web of Science, and Cochrane Collaboration) were searched for all original articles published from 1980 to 2015. The present meta-analysis included case-control studies that reported the presence of microorganisms in samples of patients with sarcoidosis using culture methods or molecular biology techniques. We used a random effects or a fixed-effect model to calculate the odds ratio (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI). Sensitivity and subgroup analyses were performed in order to explore the heterogeneity among studies. Results: Fifty-eight studies qualified for the purpose of this analysis. The present meta-analysis, the first, to our knowledge, in evaluation of all infectious agents proposed to be associated with sarcoidosis and involving more than 6000 patients in several countries, suggests an etiological link between Propionibacterium acnes and sarcoidosis, with an OR of 18.80 (95% CI 12.62, 28.01). We also found a significant association between sarcoidosis and mycobacteria, with an OR of 6.8 (95% CI 3.73, 12.39). Borrelia (OR 4.82; 95% CI 0.98, 23.81), HHV-8 (OR 1.47; 95% CI 0.02, 110.06) as well as Rickettsia helvetica, Chlamydia pneumoniae, Epstein-barr virus and Retrovirus, although suggested by previous investigations, were not associated with sarcoidosis. Conclusion: This meta-analysis suggests that some infectious agents can be associated with sarcoidosis. What seems clear is that more than one infectious agent might be implicated in the pathogenesis of sarcoidosis; probably the patient's geographical location might dictate which microorganisms are more involved. Future investigations and more clinical trials are need to bring these evidences to a more global level.
- Propionibacterium acnes