Successful treatment of cytomegalovirus associated hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis with the interleukin 1 inhibitor - anakinra

Chandima Divithotawela, Peter Garrett, Glen Westall, Balu Bhaskar, Maneesha Tol, Daniel C. Chambers

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11 Citations (Scopus)


Hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH) is a rare, frequently underrecognized condition associated with multi-organ failure and very high mortality. A 44-year-old woman was admitted with a 4-day history of fever, headache, delirium, and dyspnea. She progressed rapidly to type 1 respiratory failure and required intubation and mechanical ventilation. Laboratory tests showed pancytopenia, abnormal liver enzyme levels, elevated triglyceride level, and elevated ferritin level. Bone marrow biopsy showed features of HLH. Computed tomography scan showed bilateral consolidation. Bronchoalveolar lavage was positive for cytomegalovirus. She was treated with ganciclovir, methylprednisolone, broad spectrum antibiotics, and cytomegalovirus hyperimmunoglobulin without clinical response. Given the poor prognosis and reports of success in pediatric HLH, anakinra 100 μg subcutaneously daily was commenced. There was rapid defervescence, resolution of delirium, and improvement in gas exchange, leading to complete recovery. This case illustrates successful treatment of HLH associated with cytomegalovirus pneumonitis with the interleukin 1 inhibitor anakinra.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4-6
Number of pages3
JournalRespirology Case Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis
  • Inflammation
  • Pulmonary
  • Virology

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