Mutations of the hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis-associated gene UNC13D in a patient with systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis

Melissa M Hazen, Amy L Woodward, Inga Hofmann, Barbara A Degar, Alexei Grom, Alexandra H Filipovich, Bryce A Binstadt
Arthritis and Rheumatism 2008, 58 (2): 567-70
The clinical syndromes of hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH) and macrophage activation syndrome (MAS) are both characterized by dysregulated inflammation with prolonged fever, hepatosplenomegaly, coagulopathy, hematologic cytopenias, and evidence of hemophagocytosis in the bone marrow or liver. While HLH is either inherited or acquired, children with severe rheumatic diseases, most notably systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis, are at risk for MAS. The phenotypic similarity between HLH and MAS raises the possibility that they share common pathogenetic mechanisms. Familial forms of HLH have been attributed to mutations in the genes encoding perforin (PRF1) and Munc13-4 (UNC13D), among others, and are characterized by defective cytotoxic lymphocyte function. While some patients with systemic JIA have decreased levels of perforin protein expression and natural killer (NK) cell function, mutations of HLH-associated genes in patients with systemic JIA have not been reported. We report the case of an 8-year-old girl with systemic JIA without MAS who was found to have compound heterozygous mutations of UNC13D and reduced NK cell cytotoxic function. This case broadens the range of clinical phenotypes attributable to UNC13D mutations and offers new insights into the etiology and pathogenesis of systemic JIA.

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