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      Screening of hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis in children with severe sepsis in pediatric intensive care


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          We sought to screen for clinical and laboratory features of hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis among pediatric patients with severe sepsis.


          We conducted a retrospective study that analyzed the clinical and laboratory data of 70 pediatric patients who died of severe sepsis. Medical records were revised for the presence of fever, splenomegaly, pancytopenia, hyperferritinemia, hypertriglyceridemia, and hypofibrinogenemia. Soluble CD25 was measured in stored samples.


          Patients’ ages ranged between 0.5 and 11 years with median (interquartile range) 2 (1–5). All patients had fever (≥38.5 °C) and pancytopenia, 58 (82.9%) hepatosplenomegaly, 36 (51.4%) lymphadenopathy, 37 (52.9%) had ferritin >500 ng/ml, 20 (28.6%) had fibrinogen <1.5 mg/ml, 14 (20%) had fasting triglycerides >264 mg/dl while 5 (7.1%) had soluble CD25 >2400 U/ml. Twenty-five (35.7%) patients fulfilled at least 5/6 of the hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis-2004 diagnostic criteria. Multivariate backward binary logistic regression analysis revealed lymphadenopathy as an independent predictor for hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis criteria fulfilment with odds ratio of 23.9. Fibrinogen had the best performance in discriminating hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis fulfilling from non-fulfilling groups (cut-off value: <1.8 mg/ml), followed by ferritin/erythrocyte sedimentation rate ratio (cut-off value: >17).


          There is a significant clinical and laboratory overlap between hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis and severe sepsis, making the syndromes difficult to distinguish. The use of current hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis-2004 diagnostic criteria should be applied cautiously in those patients.

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          Most cited references63

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          The Third International Consensus Definitions for Sepsis and Septic Shock (Sepsis-3).

          Definitions of sepsis and septic shock were last revised in 2001. Considerable advances have since been made into the pathobiology (changes in organ function, morphology, cell biology, biochemistry, immunology, and circulation), management, and epidemiology of sepsis, suggesting the need for reexamination.
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            HLH-2004: Diagnostic and therapeutic guidelines for hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis.

            In HLH-94, the first prospective international treatment study for hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH), diagnosis was based on five criteria (fever, splenomegaly, bicytopenia, hypertriglyceridemia and/or hypofibrinogenemia, and hemophagocytosis). In HLH-2004 three additional criteria are introduced; low/absent NK-cell-activity, hyperferritinemia, and high-soluble interleukin-2-receptor levels. Altogether five of these eight criteria must be fulfilled, unless family history or molecular diagnosis is consistent with HLH. HLH-2004 chemo-immunotherapy includes etoposide, dexamethasone, cyclosporine A upfront and, in selected patients, intrathecal therapy with methotrexate and corticosteroids. Subsequent hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) is recommended for patients with familial disease or molecular diagnosis, and patients with severe and persistent, or reactivated, disease. In order to hopefully further improve diagnosis, therapy and biological understanding, participation in HLH studies is encouraged.
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              International pediatric sepsis consensus conference: definitions for sepsis and organ dysfunction in pediatrics.

              Although general definitions of the sepsis continuum have been published for adults, no such work has been done for the pediatric population. Physiologic and laboratory variables used to define the systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS) and organ dysfunction require modification for the developmental stages of children. An international panel of 20 experts in sepsis and clinical research from five countries (Canada, France, Netherlands, United Kingdom, and United States) was convened to modify the published adult consensus definitions of infection, sepsis, severe sepsis, septic shock, and organ dysfunction for children. Consensus conference. This document describes the issues surrounding consensus on four major questions addressed at the meeting: a) How should the pediatric age groups affected by sepsis be delineated? b) What are the specific definitions of pediatric SIRS, infection, sepsis, severe sepsis, and septic shock? c) What are the specific definitions of pediatric organ failure and the validity of pediatric organ failure scores? d) What are the appropriate study populations and study end points required to successfully conduct clinical trials in pediatric sepsis? Five subgroups first met separately and then together to evaluate the following areas: signs and symptoms of sepsis, cell markers, cytokines, microbiological data, and coagulation variables. All conference participants approved the final draft of the proceedings of the meeting. Conference attendees modified the current criteria used to define SIRS and sepsis in adults to incorporate pediatric physiologic variables appropriate for the following subcategories of children: newborn, neonate, infant, child, and adolescent. In addition, the SIRS definition was modified so that either criteria for fever or white blood count had to be met. We also defined various organ dysfunction categories, severe sepsis, and septic shock specifically for children. Although no firm conclusion was made regarding a single appropriate study end point, a novel nonmortality end point, organ failure-free days, was considered optimal for pediatric clinical trials given the relatively low incidence of mortality in pediatric sepsis compared with adult populations. We modified the adult SIRS criteria for children. In addition, we revised definitions of severe sepsis and septic shock for the pediatric population. Our goal is for these first-generation pediatric definitions and criteria to facilitate the performance of successful clinical studies in children with sepsis.

                Author and article information

                Sci Prog
                Sci Prog
                Science Progress
                SAGE Publications (Sage UK: London, England )
                14 September 2021
                Jul-Sep 2021
                : 104
                : 3
                : 00368504211044042
                [1 ]Pediatric Allergy and Immunology Unit, Children’s Hospital, Ringgold 68903, universityAin Shams University; , Egypt
                [2 ]Pediatric Nephrology Unit, Children’s Hospital, Ringgold 68903, universityAin Shams University; , Egypt
                [3 ]Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, Children’s Hospital, Ringgold 68903, universityAin Shams University; , Egypt
                Author notes
                [*]Ahmed R Rezk, Department of Pediatrics, Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, Faculty of Medicine, Ain-Shams University, Abbassya square, Cairo 11566, Egypt. Email: ahmed_rezk@ 123456med.asu.edu.eg
                Author information
                © The Author(s) 2021

                This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 License ( https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/) which permits non-commercial use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access page ( https://us.sagepub.com/en-us/nam/open-access-at-sage).

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                July-September 2021

                critically ill,hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis,infection,mortality,sepsis


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