Cutaneous hemophagocytosis: Clinicopathologic features of 21 cases

Francesca Boggio, Viviana Lora, Carlo Cota, Amanda Pereira, Robert Müllegger, Lucia Prieto-Torres, Lorenzo Cerroni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Hemophagocytosis is well known in cytotoxic cutaneous T-cell lymphomas (CTCLs), in which it may represent a sign of hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis syndrome (HLHS), and is also typical of cutaneous Rosai-Dorfman disease (cRDD) (without prognostic relevance). Only rarely, has cutaneous hemophagocytosis (CH) been described in other skin conditions.

OBJECTIVE: To characterize the clinicopathologic features of CH in skin biopsy specimens from patients with conditions other than CTCL or cRDD.

METHODS: Case series analyzing clinicopathologic features and follow-up data on patients presenting with histopathologic signs of CH.

RESULTS: Biopsy specimens from 21 patients were included. None of the patients had HLHS. The majority (n = 11) presented with leukocytoclastic vasculitis. Other associated diseases were lupus erythematous (n = 2), arthropod bite reaction (n = 2), erysipelas (n = 1), acne conglobata (n = 1), and Sweet syndrome (n = 1). Three patients had a nonspecific rash concomitant with Chlamydia pneumonia, middle ear infection, and pharyngitis, respectively.

LIMITATIONS: This was a single-center, retrospective study.

CONCLUSION: Isolated CH in conditions other than CTCL and cRDD is a histopathologic finding related mostly to leukocytoclastic vasculitis. Extensive investigations should be performed only if patients have other signs or symptoms of HLHS.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)377-382
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Dermatology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2018


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