Age at Onset of Sarcoidosis Among Gender Differences Seen in Patients

Özge Özkaya, PhD avatar

by Özge Özkaya, PhD |

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Women  tend to develop sarcoidosis at older ages than men, and they’re more likely to experience eye inflammation (uveitis) and cutaneous involvement as well,  according to a retrospective study of sex differences in this disease, conducted on people diagnosed between 1976 and 2013.

Men, however, are more likely pulmonary symptoms related to sarcoidosis.

The study, “Influence of Gender on Epidemiology and Clinical Manifestations of Sarcoidosis: A Population-Based Retrospective Cohort Study 1976–2013,” was published in the medical journal Lung.

The influence of ethnicity on sarcoidosis is well-documented, with a large number of studies having investigated the role of ethnicity on the epidemiology and clinical signs of the disease. The role of gender, however, has not been analyzed in-depth.

Drs. Patompong Ungprasert, Cynthia Crowson, and Eric L. Matteson, all with the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, wanted to determine how gender might impact the disease’s epidemiology and clinical manifestations.

The team identified all the residents of Olmsted County, Minnesota, diagnosed with sarcoidosis between 1976 and 2013. In total, researchers reported 345 sarcoidosis cases, with half of them being male and half female.

Researchers analyzed the age of onset and disease characteristics among these patients, and found that women were diagnosed at later ages than men, 48.3 years compared to 42.8 years, respectively. This difference was statistically significant.

Moreover, uveitis and cutaneous involvement were significantly more common among female sarcoidosis patients, with 6% of the women having uveitis compared to 1% of men, and 25% of women having cutaneous involvement compared to 12% of men.

Conversely, pulmonary symptoms were significantly more frequent in male patients (51%) compared to female patients (36%), even though intra-thoracic disease was seen in the great majority of patients (98% of the women, and 96% of the men).

Researchers also found that the frequency of elevated levels of the angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) (a protein involved in blood pressure control) and hypercalcemia (elevated calcium levels in the blood) were not significantly different between men and women.

“There is no difference in sex predilection for developing sarcoidosis. In this study, females tended to be older at the age they developed sarcoidosis, and had more uveitis and cutaneous involvement than males,” they concluded.

Understanding sex differences in the clinical manifestations of the disease is important to modeling disease occurrence in the population, and could help improve management of the condition.