Acute liver failure caused by hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis in adults: A case report and review of the literature

Shide Lin, Ying Li, Jun Long, Qichuan Liu, Fangwan Yang, Yihuai He
Medicine (Baltimore) 2016, 95 (47): e5431

BACKGROUND: Hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH) is a rare condition that can be caused by a primary or acquired disorder of uncontrolled immune response. Liver injury is a common complication of HLH; however, HLH presenting as acute liver failure (ALF) has rarely been reported in adults.

CASE SUMMARY: A 34-year-old man was admitted to our hospital with nausea and fatigue persisting for 2 weeks and jaundice for 1 week. He had hyperthermia at the onset of disease. At admission, he had severe liver injury with unknown etiology. The laboratory data showed that he had hyperferritinemia, thrombocytopenia, anemia, hypertriglyceridemia, and hypofibrinogenemia. Finally, a bone marrow biopsy revealed hemophagocytic cells, and he was diagnosed with HLH. The patient was treated with prednisone and plasma exchange. However, the liver function of the patient deteriorated, and he finally died of multiorgan failure.

CONCLUSIONS: Reports of adult patients with ALF caused by HLH have increased, and HLH should be suspected in patients with ALF of indeterminate cause. Although the efficacy of the treatment strategy recommended by the HLH 2004 remains to be confirmed in adult patients with ALF caused by HLH, early diagnosis and prompt combined treatment with steroids and cyclosporin A or etoposide should be emphasized.


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