Pulmonary langerhans cell histiocytosis: case series and literature review

Medicine (Baltimore). 2014 Nov;93(23):e141. doi: 10.1097/MD.0000000000000141.


Pulmonary Langerhans cell histiocytosis (PLCH) is a rare disease with insidious onset and nonspecific manifestations. The objective of this article was to characterize the clinical manifestations and features of PLCH by retrospectively analyzing clinical data of patients with PLCH in addition to simultaneous review of literature.A retrospective analysis was conducted on clinical data of patients with PLCH (n = 7), whose conditions were diagnosed by biopsy from pulmonary tissue (n = 6) or enlarged lymph nodes in the neck (n = 1) and confirmed by PLCH typical radiological features on computed tomography (CT) scan, between January 2001 and September 2012 at the Shanghai Pulmonary Hospital, Tongji University School of Medicine, Shanghai, China. The review of published reports was made to further emphasize the clinical manifestation and radiological features of PLCH.Long history of cigarette smoking was found in 6 patients. Two patients had recurrent pneumothorax and the other 2 had pulmonary arterial hypertension (World Health Organization group 5 pulmonary hypertension), diagnosed through ultrasonic cardiogram. The nodular shadows were revealed by chest CT scan in 5 patients, cystic shadows in 5 patients, and reticular shadows in 2 patients, as major manifestations, respectively; most of the lesions were located in the middle or upper segments of the lung. The obvious shrank of lesion was found in 1 patient after completely quitting smoking.The pathogenesis of PLCH might be closely associated with smoking. The cystic or nodular lesion was the typical radiological features. Further prospective studies with large sample size are required to further validate the study results and understand the clinical characteristics of PLCH to avoid misdiagnosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Histiocytosis, Langerhans-Cell / diagnosis*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Young Adult