Fueling the FIRES: Hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis in febrile infection-related epilepsy syndrome

Raquel Farias-Moeller, Reghann LaFrance-Corey, Luca Bartolini, Elizabeth M. Wells, Meredith Baker, Alyssa Doslea, William Suslovic, Jay Greenberg, Jessica L. Carpenter, Charles L. Howe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Objectives: Although secondary hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH) has been reported in children with critical illness of various etiologies, it has not been reported in patients with febrile infection–related epilepsy syndrome (FIRES). We describe a series of patients with concurrent HLH and FIRES in an effort to establish common pathophysiologic abnormalities. Methods: Five patients with FIRES who were assessed for HLH were identified from a neurocritical care database. All were previously healthy and had extensive diagnostic testing. All had clinical deterioration with multiorgan dysfunction prompting HLH screening 20-29 days after hospitalization. Markers for inflammatory dysregulation were assessed in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and serum at various time points. Outcomes were assessed 6 months after presentation. Results: Three patients met clinical criteria for secondary HLH. Elevation of specific cytokines/chemokines was variable. CSF neopterin, high mobility group box 1 (HMGB1), and C-X-C motif chemokine ligand 8 (CXCL8) were significantly elevated in all. Interleukin-1β (IL-1β) and IL-18 were not elevated in any of the samples. Treatment and outcomes were variable. Significance: We describe 3 patients with HLH and FIRES. The co-occurrence of these 2 rare disorders suggests the possibility of a common immune dysregulation phenotype prolonging epileptogenesis. HLH screening in critically ill patients with FIRES may yield a broader understanding of shared inflammatory processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1753-1763
Number of pages11
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2018


  • febrile infection–related epilepsy syndrome
  • hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis
  • refractory status epilepticus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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