Familial neuroendocrine cell hyperplasia of infancy

Pediatr Pulmonol. 2010 Aug;45(8):749-55. doi: 10.1002/ppul.21219.


Background: Neuroendocrine cell hyperplasia of infancy (NEHI) is a recently described children's interstitial lung disease (chILD) disorder of unknown etiology. It manifests clinically with tachypnea, retractions, hypoxemia, and crackles. The characteristic radiographic appearance consists of pulmonary hyperexpansion and ground-glass densities on high-resolution computed tomography (HRCT). Lung histology shows hyperplasia of bombesin-immunopositive neuroendocrine cells within distal bronchioles and alveolar ducts without other identifiable lung pathology or developmental anomaly.

Methods: We describe four families with multiple siblings diagnosed with NEHI. Cases were identified at three pediatric centers. Inclusion criteria included clinical findings consistent with NEHI, lung biopsy confirmation in the index case, and a diagnostic HRCT or biopsy in other siblings.

Results: Each family had a proband diagnosed with NEHI based upon pathologic review, and at least one additional sibling diagnosed either by pathologic review or HRCT. All patients presented between 2 and 15 months of age. Both male and female children were affected. The majority of the patients underwent both HRCT and lung biopsy. There were no deaths among affected children. No environmental exposures or other potential etiologies were identified as a cause of presenting symptoms.

Conclusions: The familial occurrence of NEHI suggests the possibility of a genetic etiology for this disorder and highlights the importance of taking a complete family medical history for infants presenting with a suggestive clinical picture. Identification of familial NEHI patients allows for the opportunity to further our understanding of this disorder, its natural history, the phenotypic spectrum, and potential genetic causes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hyperplasia / diagnostic imaging
  • Hyperplasia / genetics
  • Hyperplasia / pathology
  • Infant
  • Lung Diseases, Interstitial / diagnosis*
  • Lung Diseases, Interstitial / genetics
  • Lung Diseases, Interstitial / pathology
  • Male
  • Neuroendocrine Cells / diagnostic imaging
  • Neuroendocrine Cells / pathology
  • Pedigree
  • Respiratory Sounds
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed