Open Access

The significance of 18F-FDG PET/CT in secondary hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis

Contributed equally
Journal of Hematology & Oncology20125:40

DOI: 10.1186/1756-8722-5-40

Received: 8 July 2012

Accepted: 23 July 2012

Published: 23 July 2012

Abstract

This study was aimed to investigate the significance of 18F-FDG PET/CT in secondary hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (sHLH) patients. A total of 18 patients received 18F-FDG PET/CT scan at initial diagnosis. All patients (18/18) had at least 3 organs involved, with increased FDG metabolism in different degrees. Fifteen cases (15/18) had definite underlying diseases, including infections (IAHLH), rheumatosis (RAHLH), or malignancy (MAHLH). The SUVmax of patients in MAHLH group was significantly higher than patients in IAHLH group or RAHLH group (P = 0.015, P = 0.045). Furthermore, the SUVmax of patients in IAHLH group was significantly higher than patients of RAHLH group (P = 0.043). Therefore, we concluded that 18F-FDG PET/CT may especially play important role in differential diagnosis of sHLH.

To the Editor

Secondary hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (sHLH) is a hyper-inflammatory clinical syndrome mainly caused by severe infections, autoimmune inflammatory disorders and malignancies, especially lymphoma [13]. Up to date, very few data from the literature are available regarding the role of 18F-FDG PET/CT in sHLH. In this study, 18 of 50 patients with sHLH who were admitted into our hospital between May 2007 and December 2010 underwent the examination (Table 1). The male-to-female ratio was 1:1, and the median age was 35 years (15-73). The diagnosis of HLH was made according to HLH-2004 diagnostic guidelines [4, 5], and the underlying diseases were confirmed by a series of pathogenesis examinations including pathology, immunology, bacterial culture and virus detection et al. The maximum standardized uptake values (SUVmax) used to measure the level of FDG uptake were determined in all lesions [6]. All of the 18 patients had at least 3 organs involved, with increased FDG uptake at different level, including 18 cases showing splenomegaly, 16 cases serous effusions, 16 cases lymphadenopathy, 13 cases bone lesions, 12 cases pneumonia, 8 cases hepatomegaly, 5 cases brain parenchymal or cerebroventricular lesions, 5 cases cholecystitis, 4 cases myocardium lesions, and 2 cases kidney calculi. There were also other organs involved, such as larynx, muscles and adnexauteri. Fifteen patients (15/18) had definite underlying diseases, and were divided into three groups.,including Infection Associated HLH (IAHLH, including EBV-HLH, n = 8), Rheumatosis Associated HLH (RAHLH, n = 2), and Malignancy Associated HLH (MAHLH, n = 5). The SUVmax of patients in MAHLH group was significantly higher than those of patients with IAHLH (Mean 12.0 vs. 6.8, P = 0.015), and RAHLH (Mean 12.0 vs. 2.7, P = 0.045). Furthermore, the SUVmax of patients with IAHLH was significantly higher than that of patients with RAHLH (Mean 6.8 vs. 2.7, P = 0.043). However, no significant difference in survival time was found between the three different sHLH subtype according to Kaplan-Meier analysis (P >0.05). In conclusion, 18F-FDG PET/CT may play important role in differential diagnosis of sHLH, with high SUV pointing toward underlying malignancy.
Table 1

Characteristics of 18 sHLH patients

No.

Age/ Sex

Underlying disease

Therapy

Outcome

Survival (month)

Organs

SUVmax

1

35/M

Lymphoma (NK / T)

IVIG/HLH-2004 regimen(1 cycle) → High-dose methylprednisolone pulse therapy

Died of intracranial hemorrhage

1.7

6

12.3

2

35/F

Lymphoma (NK / T)

The Hyper-CVAD regimen (1 cycle)

Died of intracranial hemorrhage

1.2

6

15.7

3

18/M

Lymphoma (NK / T)

The CHOP regimen(1 cycle)

Died of acute hemorrhage of gastrointestinal tract

0.3

7

14.6

4

56/M

Lymphoma

Hydrocortisone 100mg×5d

Died of intracranial hemorrhage

1.7

5

4.3

5

32/M

Lymphoma

Dex 10mg/d×3d

Died of liver failure

0.3

10

13.3

6

37/F

Sjögren's syndrome

The COP regimen(3 cycle)

CR

>12

5

0.7

7

15/F

UCTD

The COP regimen (4 cycle)

CR

>45

3

4.6

8

21/F

EBV infection

HLH-2004 regimen (1 cycle)

Died of acute hemorrhage of gastrointestinal tract

1.7

7

6.6

9

17/M

EBV infection

Methylprednisolone 40 mg/d×24d

CR

>22

7

8.3

10

46/M

EBV infection

Dex 15mg/d×4d

Died of septic shock

0.4

6

10

11

73/M

EBV infection

The COP regimen (7 cycle)

Died of multi-organ failure

6

7

5.2

12

26/F

CMV infection

IVIG/HLH-2004 regimen (1 cycle) →The CHOP regimen(2 cycle)

CR

>24

6

9

13

24/F

CMV infection

The COP regimen (7 cycle)

Died of respiratory failure

2.2

5

4.2

14

69/F

MRSH infection

The COP regimen (2 cycle)

Died of respiratory failure

2.0

6

5.2

15

62/F

Fungal Infection

The COP regimen (7 cycle)

stable

>8

4

5.8

16

44/F

Malignant tumour?

Methylprednisolone 40 mg/d×5d

Died of multi-organ failure

0.4

8

7.7

17

56/M

Lymphoma?

The CHOP regimen (2 cycle) →Splenectomy→The Hyper-CVAD regimen (1cycle)

stable

>13

6

5.7

18

18/M

indefinite

HLH-2004 regimen (1 cycle)

Died of intracranial hemorrhage

0.2

3

4.2

HLH-2004, dexamethasone, etopside and Ciclosporin A; CHOP, cyclophosphamide, adviamycin, vincristine and prednisolone; COP, cyclophosphamide, vincristine and prednisone; Hyper-CVAD, cyclophosphamide, vincristine, doxorubicin, dexamethasone, methotrexate and cytarabine; DEX, dexamethasone; CR, complete response; UCTD, undifferentiated connective tissue disease; EBV, Epstein-Barr virus; CMV, cytomegalovirus; MRSH, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus hominis.

Notes

Declarations

Acknowledgments

This study was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (81070456, 81170490), ‘Liu Da Ren Cai Gao Feng’ of Jiangsu Province (2010-WS-019), and A Project Funded by the Priority Academic Program Development of Jiangsu Higher Education Institutions.

Authors’ Affiliations

(1)
Department of Hematology, The First Affiliated Hospital of Nanjing Medical University, Jiangsu Province Hospital
(2)
Department of Hematology, Huai’an First People’s Hospital, Nanjing Medical University
(3)
Department of PET/CT Center, The First Affiliated Hospital of Nanjing Medical University, Jiangsu Province Hospital

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Copyright

© Zhang et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2012

This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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