Th2-M2 immunity in lesions of muscular sarcoidosis and macrophagic myofasciitis

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To analyse the paradox of a lack of giant cell formation and fibrosis in chronic lesions of macrophagic myofasciitis (MMF) in comparison with muscular sarcoidosis (MuS).


Inflammatory lesions and contiguous muscle regions from biopsy samples of 10 patients with MuS and 10 patients with MMF were cut out by laser microdissection. Mediators of the T helper cell (Th)1 inducing classical macrophage activation (e.g. STAT1, IFNγ and CXCR3), and Th2 inducing alternative activation of macrophages (e.g. CD206/MRC1, STAT6, SOCS1), molecules involved in development of fibrosis (e.g. TGFβ) and giant cells (e.g. TYROBP), were assessed by immunohistochemistry and real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR).


STAT6-induced Th2 immunity was associated with up-regulated gene expression of MRC1, SOCS1 and TGFB in inflammatory foci, in comparison with adjacent tissue. TYROBP and TREM2, genes regulating giant cell formation, were more strongly expressed in lesions of MuS patients than in those of MMF. TGFβ co-localized with CD206+ macrophages in MuS but not in MMF. Conversely, Th1 immunity was illustrated by STAT1 staining both in macrophages and myofibres in MuS, but not in MMF. Also, STAT1-induced IFNG and CXCR3 expression in lesions and the surrounding tissue was elevated compared with normal controls, but without statistically significant differences.


Giant cell and typical granuloma formations, including fibrogenesis, is dependent on two main mechanisms, both involving specific macrophage activation: a strong Th2-M2 polarization and a significant expression of TYROBP and TGFβ in macrophages. The low-grade alternative activation of macrophages in MMF lesions and poor TYROBP and TGFβco-expression are obviously insufficient to produce giant cells.

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