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Hemophagocytic Lymphohistiocytosis Secondary to Unknown Underlying Hodgkin Lymphoma Presenting with a Cholestatic Pattern of Liver Injury

By A.L. Booth, P. Osehobo, D. Rodgers-Soriano, A. Lalarukh, M.A. Eltorky and H.L. Stevenson


Hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH) is an uncommon disease that often presents with nonspecific findings. A high index of suspicion is necessary to make a prompt diagnosis and prevent fatal disease. A 45-year-old man presented with fever, hypotension, abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting. Imaging showed hepatosplenomegaly and laboratory tests revealed pancytopenia, increased ferritin, and a cholestatic pattern of injury with elevated alkaline phosphatase and total bilirubin. Due to a history of Crohn disease, systemic lupus erythematous, and rheumatoid arthritis, the patient was on immunosuppressants, including infliximab. After multiple negative cultures, persistent fever, and days of empiric broad spectrum antibiotics, our differential shifted to fever of unknown origin. A liver wedge biopsy revealed areas of sinusoidal dilatation with enlarged, activated macrophages containing erythrocytes and intracytoplasmic iron, consistent with hemophagocytosis due to HLH. The portal tracts showed mixed lymphoplasmacytic inflammation, a prominent bile ductular reaction, periportal fibrosis, and scattered large cells with occasional binucleation and prominent nucleoli. These cells stained positive for Epstein-Barr virus encoding region in situ hybridization, PAX5, CD15, and CD30, and hepatic involvement by classic Hodgkin lymphoma was diagnosed and determined to be the cause of the HLH and cholestatic pattern of injury. Simultaneously, a bone marrow biopsy showed diffuse involvement by Hodgkin lymphoma with a similar staining pattern. Aggressive treatment failed and the patient succumbed to multiorgan failure. HLH is a rare, potentially fatal disease, with nonspecific signs and symptoms, and should be considered in any patient presenting with fever and pancytopenia, especially if they are immune compromised

Topics: Hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis, Hodgkin lymphoma, Cholestatic biliary injury, Fever of unknown origin, Autoimmune disease, Diseases of the digestive system. Gastroenterology, RC799-869
Publisher: Karger Publishers
Year: 2018
DOI identifier: 10.1159/000486190
OAI identifier:
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