Histologic features of sinus histiocytosis with massive lymphadenopathy in patients with autoimmune lymphoproliferative syndrome

Am J Surg Pathol. 2005 Jul;29(7):903-11. doi: 10.1097/01.pas.0000157997.61177.08.


Autoimmune lymphoproliferative syndrome (ALPS) is an inherited disorder associated with defects in Fas-mediated apoptosis, characterized most often by childhood onset of lymphadenopathy, splenomegaly, hypergammaglobulinemia, and autoimmune phenomena. Children with sinus histiocytosis with massive lymphadenopathy (SHML) have a somewhat similar clinical phenotype in which prominent adenopathy also is associated with hypergammaglobulinemia, and autoimmune phenomena are reported in 10-15% of cases. We observed histopathological features of SHML in the lymph nodes of some of our ALPS patients, further suggesting an association between these two disorders. We, thus, reviewed the lymph nodes from 44 patients ALPS type Ia, all of whom were confirmed to have germline mutations in the TNFRSF6 gene encoding Fas (CD95/Apo-1). Eighteen of 44 (41%) patients had a histiocytic proliferation resembling SHML. The affected patients included 15 males and 3 females ranging in age from 11 months to 30 years at the time of the LN biopsy. The lymph nodes contained S-100+ histiocytes with characteristic nuclear features of SHML, and showed evidence of emperipolesis in both hematoxylin and eosin (H and E) and immunostained sections. The extent of the histiocytic proliferation was variable, being confluent in 2 cases, multifocal in 13, and only evident as isolated SHML-type histiocytes in 3. In lymph nodes without confluent SHML changes, increased numbers of CD3+CD4-CD8+ (double negative) alphabeta T-cells, also negative for CD45RO, a feature of ALPS, could be identified in the paracortex. Furthermore, because SHML shares many clinical features with ALPS, we sought evidence of ALPS in sporadic SHML. We attempted to sequence TNFRSF6 DNA from archived tissue of 14 cases of Rosai-Dorfman disease. Full sequencing of the gene was successful in 4 of the cases; no mutations were identified. Nevertheless, our observations suggest that histologic features of SHML are part of the pathologic spectrum of ALPS type Ia. It remains to be determined if some cases of apparently sporadic SHML may be associated with heritable defects in Fas-mediated apoptosis.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Autoimmune Diseases / complications
  • Autoimmune Diseases / metabolism
  • Autoimmune Diseases / pathology*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Histiocytosis, Sinus / complications
  • Histiocytosis, Sinus / metabolism
  • Histiocytosis, Sinus / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Infant
  • Lymph Nodes / metabolism
  • Lymph Nodes / pathology
  • Lymphatic Diseases / etiology
  • Lymphatic Diseases / metabolism
  • Lymphatic Diseases / pathology*
  • Lymphoproliferative Disorders / complications
  • Lymphoproliferative Disorders / metabolism
  • Lymphoproliferative Disorders / pathology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mutation
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Receptors, Tumor Necrosis Factor / genetics
  • fas Receptor


  • FAS protein, human
  • Receptors, Tumor Necrosis Factor
  • fas Receptor