Intractable Rare Dis Res. 2016;5(3):227-230. (DOI: 10.5582/irdr.2016.01018)

Hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis: A rare cause of recurrent encephalopathy.

Sulaiman RA, Shaheen MY, Al-Zaidan H, Al-Hassnan Z, Al-Sayed M, Rahbeeni Z, Bakshi NA, Kaya N, Aldosary M, Al-Owain M


We report an unusual case of recurrent encephalopathy due to acquired hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH) in a patient with propionic acidemia (PA). PA is an inherited metabolic disorder in which patients often present with encephalopathy and pancytopenia during metabolic decompensation. However, these patients may rarely develop HLH with similar presentation. This case illustrates the need to distinguish HLH induced encephalopathy from the one secondary to metabolic decompensation in these patients, as early diagnosis and treatment of HLH improves prognosis. This case also highlights the importance of considering HLH in patients presenting with unexplained encephalopathy, as early diagnosis and treatment is lifesaving in this otherwise lethal condition. To our knowledge this is the first case report of acquired HLH presenting as recurrent encephalopathy followed by complete recovery, in a metabolically stable patient with PA.

KEYWORDS: Inherited metabolic disorders, propionic acidemia, pancytopenia

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