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J Intensive Care Med. 2017 Jan 1:885066617711386. doi: 10.1177/0885066617711386. [Epub ahead of print]

Interleukin 1 Receptor Antagonist Anakinra, Intravenous Immunoglobulin, and Corticosteroids in the Management of Critically Ill Adult Patients With Hemophagocytic Lymphohistiocytosis.

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1 Intensive Care Unit 13i2, Department of Medicine I, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria.
2 Clinical Division of Oncology, Department of Medicine I, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria.
3 Clinical Division of Infectious Diseases and Tropical Medicine, Department of Medicine I, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria.
4 Department of Anesthesia and Intensive Care Medicine, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria.



Hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH) causes multiple organ dysfunction frequently leading to intensive care unit (ICU) referral and/or death. We report on a series of critically ill adult patients treated with a non-etoposide-based regimen including interleukin 1 antagonist anakinra, intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG), and/or corticosteroids (CS) for HLH.


Eight adult (≥18 years) ICU patients having received treatment with anakinra ± IVIG ± CS for HLH between March 2014 and March 2016 at a large tertiary care university hospital (Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria) were retrospectively analyzed.


Eight patients (median age: 38 years; range: 20-58 years; 4 males and 4 females) received anakinra together with IVIG (n = 7) and/or high-dose CS (n = 5) for suspected reactive HLH (median H-score: 214; range: 171-288). Seven (88%) patients required vasopressors and invasive mechanical ventilation and 6 (75%) patients required renal replacement therapy (median Sequential Organ Failure Assessment [SOFA] score at HLH diagnosis: 9.5; range: 6-14). Six patients showed a significant decline in the SOFA score at 1 and 2 weeks following treatment initiation ( P = .03), and the remainder 2 patients experienced early death. Five patients survived to ICU discharge, 4 of them could further be discharged from hospital (hospital survival rate: 50%). No overt treatment-related toxicity was noted.


Anakinra in combination with IVIG and/or CS resulted in a hospital survival rate of 50% in 8 critically ill adult patients with HLH despite a vast degree of organ dysfunction and the need for aggressive ICU treatment. Further research on non-etoposide-based treatment strategies for HLH in critically ill adults is warranted.


anakinra; hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis; intensive care unit


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