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Erdheim-Chester Disease Presenting with Histiocytic Colitis and Cytokine Storm

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George P. Christophi, Yeshika Sharma, Quader Farhan, Umang Jain, Ted Walker, Gregory S. Sayuk, Deborah C. Rubin
Division of Gastroenterology, Department of Medicine Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO, USA

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15403/jgld.2014.1121.262.erd

Background: Non-Langerhans histiocytosis is a group of inflammatory lymphoproliferative disorders originating from non-clonal expansion of hematopoietic stem cells into cytokine-secreting dendritic cells or macrophages. Erdheim-Chester Disease (ECD) is a rare type of non-Langerhans cell histiocytosis characterized by tissue inflammation and injury caused by macrophage infiltration and histologic findings of foamy histiocytes. Often ECD involves the skeleton, retroperitoneum and the orbits. This is the first report documenting ECD manifesting as segmental colitis and causing cytokine-release syndrome.
Case presentation: A 68-year old woman presented with persistent fever without infectious etiology and hematochezia. Endoscopy showed segmental colitis and pathology revealed infiltration of large foamy histiocytes CD3-/CD20-/CD68+/CD163+/S100- consistent with ECD. The patient was empirically treated with steroids but continued to have fever and developed progressive distributive shock.
Conclusion: This case report describes the differential diagnosis of infectious and immune-mediated inflammatory and rheumatologic segmental colitis. Non-Langerhans histiocytosis and ECD are rare causes of gastrointestinal inflammation. Prompt diagnosis is imperative for the appropriate treatment to prevent hemodynamic compromise due to distributive shock or gastrointestinal bleeding. Importantly, gastrointestinal ECD might exhibit poor response to steroid treatment and other potential treatments including chemotherapy, and biologic treatments targeting IL-1 and TNF-alpha signaling should be considered.
Key words: hematochezia – histiocytosis – inflammatory bowel disease – fever of unknown origin – macrophages – cytokine-release syndrome.
Abbreviations: AFB: acid-fast bacilli; ECD: Erdheim-Chester Disease; IBD: inflammatory bowel disease; PASD: periodic acid-Schiff with diastase; TB: tuberculosis.