Microbiological findings and treatment of EBV-associated hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis: a case report

Maciej Przybylski, Tomasz Dzieciatkowski, Dorota Zduńczyk, Wiesław Wiktor Jedrzejczak, Mirosław Luczak
Archivum Immunologiae et Therapiae Experimentalis 2010, 58 (3): 247-52
Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is the major triggering factor for hemophagocytic syndrome or hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH). In patients with EBV-HLH, the EBV-infected T cells or natural killer cells are mostly mono- or oligoclonally proliferating, whereby hypercytokinemia plays a major role and causes hemophagocytosis, cellular damage, and dysfunction of various organs. This report describes the detection and treatment of EBV-associated HLH in the case of a 17-year-old male. Serum samples and skin swabs were tested for the presence of viral DNA using real-time PCR techniques. To confirm the molecular biological tests, electron microscopy was also performed. EBV DNA was detected with real-time PCR in both blood samples and skin swabs. The level of viral DNA constantly decreased during the applied therapy. The presence of the virus in the skin was confirmed by the appearance of herpes virus-like particles detected by electron microscopy in fluid taken from skin ulcerations. The results show that in terms of treatment, special therapeutic measures are required to control the cytokine storm generated by EBV and to suppress proliferating EBV genome-containing cells because the clinical course is often fulminate and results in a poor outcome. Therefore the potential of chemotherapy with a combination of steroids, etoposide, and cyclosporine to control HLH was assessed in the adolescent, who met the stringent diagnostic criteria for this reactive disorder of the mononuclear phagocyte system.

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