Objectives: Haemophagocytic syndrome (HPS) is known as a relatively rare complication in autoimmune diseases. Here we analysed the clinical features of HPS in patients with systemic autoimmune diseases.
Methods: One thousand and fourteen patients with systemic autoimmune diseases admitted to Hokkaido University Hospital from 1997 to 2007 were recruited [350 SLE, 136 RA, 98 polymyositis/dermatomyositis (PM/DM), 88 SSc, 91 vasculitis syndrome, 37 primary SS, 26 adult onset Still's disease (AOSD) and 188 other diseases]. Clinical features and treatment outcomes were retrospectively analysed.
Results: Thirty cases (3.0%) fulfilled HPS criteria (progressive cytopenia in two or more lineages and haemophagocytosis in reticuloendothelial systems). Underlying diseases were SLE (18), RA (2), PM/DM (2), SSc (2), vasculitis (1), SS (2) and AOSD (3). Nineteen patients were diagnosed as having autoimmune-associated HPS, eight infection-associated, one drug-induced and one developed HPS after haematopoietic stem cell transplantation. For the treatment of HPS, high-dose corticosteroid monotherapy was given in 26 cases, being effective in 12 (46%). Ten out of 15 patients with corticosteroid-resistant autoimmune-associated HPS were treated with CsA, cyclophosphamide or tacrolimus, leading to the remission in 80%. The overall mortality rate was 20%. Multivariate analysis showed that the presence of infections and CRP level >50 mg/l on HPS related with poor prognosis.
Conclusions: The prevalence of HPS among in-hospital patients with systemic autoimmunity is not ignorable. Administration of immunosuppressants was effective in cases with autoimmune-associated HPS, whereas prognosis was poor in infection-associated HPS.