Severe bacteria-associated hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis in an extremely premature infant

Josefine Edner, Eva Rudd, Chengyun Zheng, Andreas Dahlander, Staffan Eksborg, E Marion Schneider, Ann Edner, Jan-Inge Henter
Acta Paediatrica 2007, 96 (11): 1703-6
Hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH) is a rare condition with high mortality. We report an extremely premature girl, born in the 24th gestational week (BW 732 g), that during her second month developed a severe HLH subsequent to a Serratia marcescens septicemia, with hepatosplenomegaly, cytopenias, hyperbilirubinemia (mostly conjugated, total bilirubin 916 mumol/L), hypertriglyceridemia, hypofibrinogenemia, hyperferritinemia (21266 mug/L), and elevated sIL-2 receptor levels. Genetic analysis revealed no PRF1, STX11 or UNC13D gene mutations. Treatment was provided according to the HLH-2004 protocol with etoposide, dexamethasone, and immunoglobulin, but no cyclosporin because of immature kidneys. She recovered fully from the HLH but developed a severe retinopathy as well as green teeth secondary to the hyperbilirubinemia. We conclude that secondary, bacteria-associated HLH can develop in premature infants, and that HLH can be treated with cytotoxic therapy also in premature infants. It is important to be aware of HLH in premature infants, since it is treatable.

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