Hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH) is a life-threatening hyper inflammatory syndrome. Cincinnati Children’s provides expert care for primary and secondary HLH.

  • Primary, or “familial,” HLH is when the condition is inherited. This means a genetic mutation (change) caused the disease.
  • Secondary HLH is when the condition may have occurred as a complication of other medical conditions, including rheumatologic disorders and cancers.

In HLH, the body’s immune defense system over-activates and can’t “switch off.” Without treatment, inflammation continues out of control, causing organ damage. Children with HLH have complex medical needs, which is why our care team includes specialists from many areas of medicine—cancer and blood diseases, bone marrow transplantation, rheumatology (immune diseases), pathology (the study of disease), genetics, neurology and radiology. These experts work together to provide children with HLH with the most effective and well-coordinated care possible.

The Cincinnati Children’s Histiocytosis Center treats patients from around the world for other kinds of histiocytosis, including Langerhans cell histiocytosis (LCH) and related disorders.