Wolman disease associated with hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis: attempts for an explanation

Roberta Taurisano, Arianna Maiorana, Fabrizio De Benedetti, Carlo Dionisi-Vici, Renata Boldrini, Federica Deodato

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The lysosomal acid lipase (LAL) is the enzyme responsible of the hydrolysis of cholesteryl esters and triglycerides within endo-lysosomes. Loss of enzyme activity leads to accumulation of cholesteryl esters and triglycerides in the lysosome of most tissues. The complete deficiency of LAL is responsible of Wolman disease (WD), a severe systemic disease manifesting in the first days of life with vomiting, diarrhea, failure to thrive, hepatosplenomegaly, jaundice, anemia, and thrombocytopenia. Hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH) is a life-threatening condition which may be genetically determined or secondary to infections, malignancies, immune deficiencies, and rheumatologic disorders. So far, some inborn errors of metabolism have been associated with HLH (e.g., lysinuric protein intolerance, Gaucher’s disease), and it has been anecdotally described in three WD patients, without any specific pathogenetic hypothesis. Here, we report on a WD patient, showing clear clinical, biochemical, and histological features indicative of HLH. We discuss the pathophysiological role of cholesteryl ester-induced inflammasome activation in macrophages, leading to a secondary HLH. Conclusion: This case indicates that WD can cause secondary HLH and suggests that a careful metabolic workup should be performed when facing to a pediatric patient with HLH.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1391-1394
Number of pages4
JournalEuropean Journal of Pediatrics
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Sep 12 2014


  • Cholesterol crystal
  • Hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis
  • Inflammasome
  • Wolman disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Medicine(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Wolman disease associated with hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis: attempts for an explanation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this