Propionic acidemia: an extremely rare cause of hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis in an infant

Koker S. A., Yesilbas O., KÖKER A., Sevketoglu E.

ARCHIVOS ARGENTINOS DE PEDIATRIA, vol.118, no.2, 2020 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 118 Issue: 2
  • Publication Date: 2020
  • Doi Number: 10.5546/aap.2020.eng.e174
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, EMBASE, MEDLINE
  • Keywords: inborn errors metabolism, hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis, propionic academia
  • Dokuz Eylül University Affiliated: No


Hemophagocytic lymphohystiocytosis (HLH) may be primary (inherited/familial) or secondary to infections, malignancies, and metabolic diseases. Cases including lysinuric protein intolerance, multiple sulfatase deficiency, galactosemia, Gaucher disease, Pearson syndrome, and galactosialidosis have previously been reported. It is unclear how the metabolites trigger HLH in metabolic diseases. A 2-month-old infant with lethargy, pallor, poor feeding, hepatosplenomegaly, fever and pancytopenia, was diagnosed with HLH and the HLH-2004 treatment protocol was initiated. Analysis for primary HLH gene mutations and metabolic screening tests were performed together; primary HLH gene mutations were negative, but hyperammonemia and elevated methyl citrate were detected. Propionic acidemia was diagnosed with tandem mass spectrometry in neonatal dried blood spot. We report this case of HLH secondary to propionic acidemia. Both metabolic disorder screening tests and gene mutation analysis may be performed simultaneously especially for early diagnosis in infants presenting with HLH.