Lymphangioleiomyomatosis: A review

Eur J Intern Med. 2008 Jul;19(5):319-24. doi: 10.1016/j.ejim.2007.10.015. Epub 2007 Dec 26.


Lymphangioleiomyomatosis (LAM) is a rare disease, of unknown etiology, affecting women almost exclusively. Microscopically, LAM consists of a diffuse proliferation of smooth muscle cells. LAM can occur without evidence of other disease (sporadic LAM) or in conjunction with tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC). TSC is an autosomal dominant tumor suppressor gene syndrome characterized by seizures, mental retardation, and tumors in the brain, heart, skin, and kidney. LAM commonly presents with progressive breathlessness or with recurrent pneumothorax, chylothorax, or sudden abdominal hemorrhage. Computed tomography (CT) scans show numerous thin-walled cysts throughout the lungs, abdominal angiomyolipomas, and lymphangioleiomyomas. No effective treatment currently exists for this progressive disorder. The prevalence of lymphangioleiomyomatosis is probably underestimated based on its clinical latency and the absence of specific laboratory tests. With the utilization of international LAM data registries the "classical" picture of the disorder appears to be evolving as a larger number of patients are evaluated. An increased awareness of LAM and its common clinical presentation may advance the development of new therapeutic strategies and reduce the number of mistakenly diagnosed patients.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Causality
  • Comorbidity
  • Contraceptives, Oral, Hormonal / adverse effects
  • Estrogens / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / chemically induced
  • Lung Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Lung Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Lung Neoplasms / therapy
  • Lymphangioleiomyomatosis / chemically induced
  • Lymphangioleiomyomatosis / diagnosis*
  • Lymphangioleiomyomatosis / epidemiology*
  • Lymphangioleiomyomatosis / therapy
  • Male
  • Respiratory Function Tests
  • Sex Factors
  • Tuberous Sclerosis / epidemiology


  • Contraceptives, Oral, Hormonal
  • Estrogens