Serum Ferritin is a Cost-effective Laboratory Marker for Hemophagocytic Lymphohistiocytosis in the Developing World

Department of Paediatrics, University of Cape Town, South Africa.
Journal of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology (Impact Factor: 0.96). 02/2012; 34(3):e89-92. DOI: 10.1097/MPH.0b013e31824227b9
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH) is a rare disease in children and presents many diagnostic difficulties. Without prompt intervention, the disease typically runs a rapidly fatal course. Diagnostic criteria were proposed by the Histiocyte Society in 1991 and have since been modified. Included in these criteria is a ferritin level >500 mcg/L. Although not diagnostic, a high ferritin level is highly suggestive of HLH. Serum ferritin assays are more accessible and cost-effective compared with other biochemical markers, particularly in resource-limited settings. Fifteen patients with HLH were treated at Red Cross War Memorial Children's Hospital between 1991 and 2010. Hyperferritinemia was a consistently reliable finding (93%) compared with either serum fibrinogen or triglycerides, which were elevated in only half of the patients. It is our contention that analysis of a complete blood count and serum ferritin (in addition to clinical criteria and tissue examination of marrow and/or cerebrospinal fluid) is probably the single most cost-effective and clinically helpful means to make the diagnosis of HLH when laboratory access is limited.

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    ABSTRACT: Hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH) is a relatively rare but life-threatening disease with confusing clinical manifestations, rapidly deteriorating health, high morbidity and mortality. To improve the recognition as well as understanding of this disorder, we analyzed clinical characteristics and prognostic factors from 85 adult patients diagnosed with HLH in our hospital from April 2005 to June 2014. Patients with HLH displayed variable clinical markers across a wide spectrum. These included fever and hyperferritinemia (100%), elevated lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) (98.8%), two or three cytopenia (92.2%), splenomegaly (72.9%), hypofibrinogenemia (69.4%), hypertriglyceridemia (64.7%), hemophagocytosis (51.7%), and hepatomegaly (24.7%). Patients with active Epstien-Barr Virus (EBV) infection had a median overall survival (OS) of 65 days. Those displaying malignancy had very poor survival (median OS: 40 days). However, patients in rheumatic and non-EBV infection groups had relatively superior prognosis (not reached). Univariate analysis showed that Fibrinogen (Fbg) <1.5 g/L, platelet number (PLT) <40 × 109/L and LDH ≥1000 U/L were factors that negatively affected survival (P = 0.004, 0.000, 0.002). Multivariate analysis showed that PLT <40 × 109/L was the independent adverse factor (HR = 0.350, 95% CI: 0.145-0.844, P = 0.019). HLH had very complex clinical manifestations and high death rate. Patients with active EBV infection, malignancy, Fbg <1.5 g/L, PLT <40 × 109/L and LDH ≥1000 U/L had high risk of death as well as inferior survival, and these patients require systemic targeted treatments as early as possible.
    Orphanet Journal of Rare Diseases 02/2015; 10(1):20. DOI:10.1186/s13023-015-0224-y · 3.96 Impact Factor


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May 16, 2014