Systemic lupus erythematosus progressing to non-Hodgkin's lymphoma complicated by fatal hemophagocytic syndrome: case report.
ABSTRACT Hemophagocytic syndrome (HPS) may be provoked by infections, malignancies and autoimmune diseases. We report on a 56-year-old woman with long-lasting systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) who presented with malar rash, inflammatory livedo reticularis, fever, weight loss, pancytopenia and mild splenomegaly with cervical lymphadenopathy. She had criteria for SLE flare-up (malar rash, high antinuclear antibody titer, complement consumption, pathological urinary sediment, and retinal vasculitis). Despite high-dose glucocorticoid therapy, pancytopenia and fever worsened. Important elevations of triglycerides and ferritin were also found. Bone marrow aspirate demonstrated hemophagocytosis, which confirmed the coexistence of HPS and SLE. The treatment with glucocorticoids, immunoglobulins, cyclophosphamide, filgrastim and antimicrobial therapy was unsuccessful. After one month, the patient developed Pneumocystis jirovecii pneumonia with fatal outcome. Bone marrow biopsy, taken 5 days before death, showed high grade diffuse large B-cell (CD20+, Ki-67+) non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (DLBCL). We are the first to report the association of both SLE and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma complicated by HPS. We showed that, based on clinical and laboratory data, it was difficult to distinguish the early phase of HPS from SLE flare-up and new-onset DLBCL. Therapy of such a complex case of HPS has not been standardized, and opportunistic infections remain a difficult issue.