Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Sarcoidosis: surface marker allows new diagnostic approaches


A team of scientists at the Helmholtz Zentrum München together with colleagues of the Ludwig Maximilians University Munich recently developed a new strategy to determine monocyte subsets involved in diseases. The results published in the journal ‘Blood’ could help facilitating the diagnosis of sarcoidosis and may improve the respective patient management.

Monocytes are white blood cells that are crucial to human immune defense. They are precursor cells of macrophages and dendritic cells and are circulating in the blood until they invade their respective target tissue where they defend the body against exogenous structures. So far, scientist categorized subtypes of monocytes only with regards to the surface markers CD14 and CD16* – however, this might change in the future.

Dr. Thomas Hofer and Dr. Marion Frankenberger

Source: Helmholtz Zentrum München (HMGU)

Surface molecule as new marker

In the current study, the team headed by Prof. Loems Ziegler-Heitbrock was able to show that the analysis of an additional marker molecule called slan allows a more precise determination of monocyte subgroups. The results of the researchers show that this classification might also lead to a better understanding of certain diseases.

Targeting sarcoidosis

To this end Dr. Thomas Hofer and Dr. Marion Frankenberger, scientists of the Comprehensive Pneumology Center (CPC) at Helmholtz Zentrum München, analyzed blood samples of patients suffering from sarcoidosis. This disease, which often leads to damage of the patients’ lungs, is caused by a strong immune reaction and a concomitant formation of nodules in the tissue. The underlying mechanisms are still unclear but scientists are convinced that monocytes play a critical role. “Our data clearly indicate which subtype of the monocytes is involved in the disease”, explains Hofer. “In the patients’ blood we found significant numbers of monocytes, which were positive for CD16 and negative for slan.” According to Hofer, these cells might play a major role in sarcoidosis.

Also a role in brain disease

Moreover, in further experiments the scientist found that the marker slan might also serve to gain insights into a brain disease: “To test the predictive value of our new diagnostic tool, we also analyzed samples of patients suffering from HDLS**, a disease which leads to destruction of neurons of the brain”, said Frankenberger. “Our results show that a clearly definable subgroup of monocytes (CD16 positive/slan positive) was almost absent in the blood of these patients. Therefore we presume that these cells are important for normal brain function”, explains the Co-author.

“With this novel approach we now have a new diagnostic tool and we expect this to have an impact in many areas of medicine”, concludes principle investigator Ziegler-Heitbrock. “In the future we are planning to investigate whether slan might also lead to new insights with regards to other diseases.”

Further information

* The number of CD16 positive monocytes is increased in many infectious diseases. Since 2010 these proinflammatory cells can be subdivided according to cell surface markers: Classical monocytes (CD14++CD16−), Intermediate monocytes (CD14++CD16+) and Non-classical monocytes (CD14+CD16++). The results of the current study allow for a clear classification of these cells.

** HDLS stands for hereditary diffuse leukoencephalopathy with spheroids. This adult-onset disease affects the brain by degrading the myelin sheath of neurons and leads to the formation of so called spheroids. This leads to a progressive cognitive and motor dysfunction.

The study is the result of a co-operation of the Helmholtz researchers with the Department of Internal Medicine IV, Saarland University Medical Center, with the Asklepios Fachklinik in Muenchen-Gauting and with the Department of Neurology of the Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich.

Original publication:
Hofer, T. et al. (2015). Slan-defined subsets of CD16-positive Monocytes: Impact of granulomatous Inflammation and M-CSF-Receptor Mutation, Blood, DOI: 10.1182/blood-2015-06-651331

The Helmholtz Zentrum München, the German Research Center for Environmental Health, pursues the goal of developing personalized medical approaches to the prevention and therapy of major common diseases such as diabetes and lung disease. To achieve this, it investigates the interaction of genetics, environmental factors and lifestyle. The Helmholtz Zentrum München has about 2,300 staff members and is headquartered in Neuherberg in the north of Munich. It is a member of the Helmholtz Association, a community of 18 scientific-technical and medical-biological research centers with a total of about 37,000 staff members. The Helmholtz Zentrum München is a partner in the German Center for Diabetes Research.

The Comprehensive Pneumology Center (CPC) is a joint research project of the Helmholtz Zentrum München, the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Clinic Complex and the Asklepios Fachkliniken München-Gauting. The CPC's objective is to conduct research on chronic lung diseases in order to develop new diagnosis and therapy strategies. The CPC maintains a focus on experimental pneumology with the investigation of cellular, molecular and immunological mechanisms involved in lung diseases. The CPC is a site of the Deutsches Zentrum für Lungenforschung (DZL).

Contact for the media:
Department of Communication, Helmholtz Zentrum München – German Research Center for Environmental Health (GmbH), Ingolstädter Landstr. 1, 85764 Neuherberg - Phone: +49 89 3187 2238 - Fax: +49 89 3187 3324 – E-mail:

Scientific contact at Helmholtz Zentrum München:
Dr. Thomas Hofer, Helmholtz Zentrum München - German Research Center for Environmental Health (GmbH), Comprehensive Pneumology Center, Ingolstädter Landstr. 1, 85764 Neuherberg - Phone +49 89 3187 1888 - E-mail:

Kommunikation | Helmholtz Zentrum München - Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Gesundheit und Umwelt

Further reports about: CPC Department Environmental Environmental Health Pneumology Sarcoidosis blood diseases monocytes

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht First time-lapse footage of cell activity during limb regeneration
25.10.2016 | eLife

nachricht Phenotype at the push of a button
25.10.2016 | Institut für Pflanzenbiochemie

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Ice shelf vibrations cause unusual waves in Antarctic atmosphere

25.10.2016 | Earth Sciences

Fluorescent holography: Upending the world of biological imaging

25.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Etching Microstructures with Lasers

25.10.2016 | Process Engineering

More VideoLinks >>>