Drug Discov Ther. 2020;14(5):226-231. (DOI: 10.5582/ddt.2020.03069)

Haemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis in human immunodeficiency virus: a systematic review of literature

Fazal F, Gupta N, Mittal A, Ray A


Diagnosis and management of hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH) in patients with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection are scarcely described in the published literature. The aim of this systematic review was to delineate the triggers of HLH in patients with HIV and understand the role of steroids in the management. We conducted a comprehensive search of English medical literature via the Medline ⁄ PubMed database using different synonyms of "HIV" AND "HLH". The review was registered in PROSPERO (CRD42018099987). The titles and abstracts of the 185 articles between January 1986 and April 2018 were reviewed. The final analysis was done from 42 articles with 52 patients. HLH was associated with malignancy in 17 patients, while infection was found in 25 patients. No cause was identified in eight patients, out of which four had acute HIV infection. Death was reported in 21 patients. Presence of either malignancy (p = 0.051) or opportunistic infection (p = 0.69) was not associated with increased chances of death by univariate analysis. A total of 26 patients were treated with steroids, while etoposide was used in only four patients. Administration of steroids as a treatment of HLH was associated with more chances of death (p = 0.048). Malignancy and Opportunistic infections are important triggers for HLH in patients with HIV. Acute HIV by itself can act as a trigger for HLH. Evidence on the use of steroids as a treatment of HLH in patients with HIV is not convincing.

KEYWORDS: infections, malignancy, steroids

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