Increasing ferritin predicts early death in adult hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis

Rand Abou Shaar, Charles S. Eby, Suzanne van Dorp, Theo de Witte, Zaher K. Otrock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Introduction: Hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH) is a rare syndrome of pathologic immune activation. Most studies on adult HLH have evaluated prognostic factors for overall survival; factors predicting early mortality have not been sufficiently investigated. Methods: This was a collaborative study between Henry Ford Hospital and Barnes-Jewish Hospital. We identified all adult HLH patients with at least 2 ferritin levels within 30 days from admission. Results: One-hundred twenty-four patients were identified. There were 77 males and 47 females; the median age at diagnosis was 48 years. Multivariate analysis showed that age (OR = 11.41; 95% CI:2.71-48.04; P =.001), hepatomegaly (OR = 15.68; 95% CI:3.24-75.96; P =.001), hyponatremia (OR = 5.94; 95% CI:1.76-20.1; P =.004), hypoalbuminemia (OR = 7.47; 95% CI:2.08-26.85; P =.002), and increasing ferritin levels (OR = 19.46; 95% CI:4.69-80.71; P <.001) were significant predictors of 30-day mortality. Patients with declining ferritin by more than 35% from the ferritin peak were more likely to survive the first 30 days of admission (OR = 4.33; 95% CI:1.04-18.1; P =.033). By risk stratifying our cohort, we identified changes in ferritin levels to be the most significant prognostic factor of 30-day mortality among other risk factors. Further investigating the prognostic utility of ferritin showed that increasing ferritin during the 1st week of admission (data available for 44 patients) was the only significant predictor of 30-day mortality. Conclusions: To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study reporting changes in ferritin to be a predictor for early death in adult HLH. Changes in ferritin might be a useful indicator of adult HLH disease activity and early prognosis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1024-1031
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Laboratory Hematology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2021


  • adult
  • change
  • early death
  • ferritin
  • hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis
  • predictor


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