We analysed data of 96 infants (under 1 year of age) with haemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH) from the registry of an HLH study conducted during 1986-2002 in Japan. The cases were classified into five groups. The diagnosis of familial HLH (FHL) as group 1 (n = 27) was made with positive family history and/or recent molecular test for perforin and Munc13-4 mutations. Neonatal enterovirus- or herpes simplex virus-associated HLH as group 2a (n = 7), Epstein-Barr virus-associated HLH (n = 12) as group 2b, adenovirus- or cytomegalovirus-associated HLH as group 3 (n = 9) were mostly diagnosed by viral isolation or by the detection of viral genome. Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis-associated macrophage activation syndrome was classified as group 4 (n = 4) and the remaining without known triggers as group 5 (n = 37). The peak onset age was 1-2 months for group 1, 1-2 weeks for group 2a, 12 months for group 2b, none for group 3, 9 months for group 4 and 2 months for group 5. Future novel diagnostic measures are required to define the precise nature of HLH in group 5.
Conclusion: These data may provide useful information for neonatologists/ paediatricians in the differential diagnosis of haemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis in early infancy.