Hemophagocytic syndrome as one of the main primary manifestations in acute systemic lupus erythematosus--case report and literature review

Lupus. 2010 May;19(6):756-61. doi: 10.1177/0961203309354906. Epub 2009 Dec 21.


Hemophagocytic syndrome is an unusual but fatal disorder characterized by pancytopenia and activation of macrophages. We describe one case of acute systemic lupus erythematosus with an unusual presentation of hemophagocytic syndrome not related to infection. The patient presented with pancytopenia related to increasing hemophagocytic activity of histiocytes in the bone marrow. Concomitant class IV World Health Organization lupus nephritis, serositis, high titer of antinuclear factor and positive test for anti-DNA antibody fitted the diagnostic criteria of systemic lupus erythematosus. She also presented with alveolar hemorrhage and lupus myocarditis. She underwent immunosuppressive therapy with recovery from the hemophagocytic syndrome. Therefore, diagnosis of acute lupus hemophagocytic syndrome was made. The clinical presentation, laboratory diagnosis, and management of the patient are discussed and the literature was reviewed and presented, with emphasis on a possible distinct lupus subset, which includes a more aggressive systemic disease with heart involvement.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antibodies, Antinuclear / blood
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / complications*
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / diagnosis
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / drug therapy
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / physiopathology
  • Lymphohistiocytosis, Hemophagocytic / diagnosis
  • Lymphohistiocytosis, Hemophagocytic / drug therapy
  • Lymphohistiocytosis, Hemophagocytic / etiology*
  • Lymphohistiocytosis, Hemophagocytic / physiopathology
  • Pancytopenia / diagnosis
  • Pancytopenia / drug therapy
  • Pancytopenia / etiology


  • Antibodies, Antinuclear