Sarcoidosis in an Italian province. Prevalence and environmental risk factors

Deborah Beghè, Luca Dall'Asta, Claudia Garavelli, Augusto Alberto Pastorelli, Marilena Muscarella, Gloria Saccani, Marina Aiello, Ernesto Crisafulli, Massimo Corradi, Paolo Stacchini, Alfredo Chetta, Giuseppina Bertorelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background and aim: Sarcoidosis is a systemic granulomatous inflammatory disease whose causes are still unknown and for which epidemiological data are often discordant. The aim of our study is to investigate prevalence and spatial distribution of cases, and identify environmental exposures associated with sarcoidosis in an Italian province. Methods: After georeferentiation of cases, the area under study was subdivided with respect to Municipality and Health Districts and to the altitude in order to identify zonal differences in prevalence. The bioaccumulation levels of 12 metals in lichen tissues were analyzed, in order to determine sources of air pollution. Finally, the analysis of the correlation between metals and between pickup stations was performed. Results: 223 patients were identified (58.3% female and 41.7% male of total) and the mean age was 50.6-15.4 years (53.5-15.5 years for the females and 46.5-14.4 for the males). The mean prevalence was 49 per 100.000 individuals. However, we observed very heterogeneous prevalence in the area under study. The correlations among metals revealed different deposition patterns in lowland area respect to hilly and mountain areas. Conclusions: The study highlights a high prevalence of sarcoidosis cases, characterized by a very inhomogeneous and patchy distribution with phenomena of local aggregation. Moreover, the bioaccumulation analysis was an effective method to identify the mineral particles that mostly contribute to air pollution in the different areas, but it was not sufficient to establish a clear correlation between the onset of sarcoidosis and environmental risk factors.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0176859
JournalPLoS One
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 1 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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