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Autoimmun Rev. 2004 Feb;3(2):69-75.

Pathogenesis of hemophagocytic syndrome (HPS).

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  • 1Department of Internal Medicine, Hôpital Avicenne, 125, rue de Stalingrad, Bobigny 93009, France.


Hemophagocytic syndrome (HPS) is a clinicopathologic entity characterized by increased proliferation and activation of benign macrophages with hemophagocytosis throughout the reticuloendothelial system. Uncontrolled T-lymphocyte activation is responsible for increased T(H)1 cytokines secretion such as IFN-gamma, IL-12 and IL-18 that promotes macrophage activation. Genetic defects specific for cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL) and natural killer (NK) cells have been identified in patients with primary HPS that are responsible for altered cell death and apoptosis induction or target killing. HPS may be secondary to malignancy, infection or autoimmune disease, and mechanisms involved are poorly understood. However, in adult-onset Still's disease, juvenile chronic arthritis and probably systemic lupus erythematosus, IL-18 might play a role in initiating macrophage activation.

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