CASE PRESENTATION: Herein, we report a case of macrophage activation syndrome in a 33-year-old Egyptian female as an unusual complication of a systemic lupus erythematosus flare in adult patients. Our patient was initially treated with a combination of intravenous methylprednisolone pulse therapy and intravenous immunoglobulin therapy, which was followed by a course of oral prednisolone and oral cyclosporine with little response. Switching from oral prednisone to intravenous dexamethasone sodium phosphate showed a more favorable clinical and biochemical response.
CONCLUSION: Macrophage activation syndrome is less commonly detected in adult patients with systemic lupus erythematosus. Our case demonstrates that dexamethasone sodium phosphate can be a successful alternative treatment for patients with systemic lupus erythematosus complicated by macrophage activation syndrome in whom the response to pulse methylprednisolone was inadequate to manage their illness, proving to be remarkably effective in a relatively short time frame.
METHOD: Retrospective study of children with ANE seen at University of Malaya Medical Centre from 2014 to 2019. All clinical details including ANE-severity score (ANE-SS), immunomodulation treatment and neurodevelopmental long-term outcome were collected.
RESULTS: Thirteen patients had ANE and brainstem death occurred in 5. In 10 patients (77%) viruses were isolated contributing to ANE: 8 influenza virus, 1 acute dengue infection, and 1 acute varicella zoster infection. The ANE-SS ranged 2-7: 9 were high risk and 4 were medium risk. Among the 8 survivors; 1 was lost to follow-up. Follow-up duration was 1-6 years (median 2.2). At follow-up among the 4 high-risk ANE-SS: 2 who were in a vegetative state, 1 remained unchanged and 1 improved to severe disability; the other 2 with severe disability improved to moderate and mild disability respectively. At follow-up all 3 medium-risk ANE-SS improved: 2 with severe disability improved to moderate and mild disability respectively, while 1 in a vegetative state improved to severe disability. Early treatment with immunomodulation did not affect outcome.
CONCLUSION: Our ANE series reiterates that ANE is a serious cause of encephalopathy with mortality of 38.5%. All survivors were in a vegetative state or had severe disability at discharge. Most of the survivors made a degree of recovery but good recovery was seen in 2. Follow-up of at least 12 months is recommended for accurate prognostication. Dengue virus infection needs to be considered in dengue endemic areas.