Langerhans Cell Histiocytosis

National Organization for Rare Disorders, Inc.

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Important
It is possible that the main title of the report Langerhans Cell Histiocytosis is not the name you expected.

Disorder Subdivisions

  • None

General Discussion

Langerhans cell histiocytosis (LCH) is a spectrum of rare disorders characterized by overproduction (proliferation) and accumulation of a specific type of white blood cell (histiocyte) in the various tissues and organs of the body (lesions). The lesions may include certain distinctive Langerhans cells involved in certain immune responses, as well as other white blood cells (e.g.,lymphocytes, monocytes, eosinophils). Associated symptoms and findings may vary from case to case, depending upon the specific tissues and organs affected and the extent of involvement. Most often the bone lesions are painful. Skin rashes may itch or cause painful ulcers especially under the arms or groin area. The pathogenesis (medical cause) is not clearly understood and an ongoing debate continues regarding its cause as a reactive immunologic or neoplastic (cancer-like) process. No infectious agent (virus, bacteria, or fungus) has been associated with LCH. Patients often have a strong family history of immune diseases such as thyroid disease, arthritis, or lupus.

Most affected individuals have single or multiple bone lesions characterized by lytic lesions (holes in the bones). Although the skull is most commonly affected, there may also be involvement of other bones, such as those of the spine (vertebrae) and the long bones of the arms and legs. Affected individuals may have no apparent symptoms (asymptomatic), or may experience associated pain and swelling, and/or develop certain complications, such as fractures or secondary compression of the spinal cord. Other organs may also be affected, including the skin, lungs, liver, spleen, bone marrow, thymus, thyroid,intestines and brain. In some individuals, LCH may be associated with involvement of the pituitary gland leading to diabetes insipidus, growth failure, hypothyroidism, or insufficitne production of sex hormones.

Langerhans cell histiocytosis was selected by the Histiocyte Society to replace the older, less specific term histiocytosis X. Histiocytosis X encompassed three entities known as eosinophilic granuloma, Hand-Schuller-Christian disease, and Letterer-Siwe disease that were characterized by the accumulation of histiocytes. The "X" denoted that the cause and development of the disorder was not understood. Langerhans cell histiocytosis was chosen because it seemed that the Langerhans cells might play a central role in the development of these disorders. However, new research (Allen 2010) has shown that the skin Langerhans cell is not the cell of origin, but a myeloid dendritic cell.

Supporting Organizations

American Lung Association

55 W. Wacker Drive
Suite 1150
Chicago, IL 60601
USA
Tel: 1-800-548-8252
Email: info@lung.org
Website: http://www.lungusa.org

Genetic and Rare Diseases (GARD) Information Center

PO Box 8126
Gaithersburg, MD 20898-8126
Tel: (301)251-4925
Fax: (301)251-4911
Tel: (888)205-2311
Website: http://rarediseases.info.nih.gov/GARD/

Histiocytosis Association of Canada

Box 29095
Okanagan Mission RPO
Kelowan, BC, V1W 4A7
Canada
Tel: 2507646104
Fax: 2507646104
Email: histio.canada@shaw.ca
Website: http://www.histiocytosis.ca/

Histiocytosis Association, Inc.

332 North Broadway
Pitman, NJ 8071
Tel: (856)589-6606
Fax: (856)589-6614
Tel: (800)548-2758
Email: association@histio.org
Website: http://www.histio.org

Histiocytosis Research Trust

Litton House
Saville Road
PE3 7PR
United Kingdom
Tel: 7850740241
Email: lynn@hrtrust.org
Website: http://www.hrtrust.org

March of Dimes

1275 Mamaroneck Avenue
White Plains, NY 10605
Tel: (914)997-4488
Fax: (914)997-4763
Email: AskUs@marchofdimes.org or preguntas@nacersano.org
Website: http://www.marchofdimes.org and nacersano.org

NIH/National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute

P.O. Box 30105
Bethesda, MD 20892-0105
Tel: (301)592-8573
Fax: (301)251-1223
Email: nhlbiinfo@rover.nhlbi.nih.gov
Website: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/

For a Complete Report

This is an abstract of a report from the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD). For a full-text version of this report, go to www.rarediseases.org and click on Rare Disease Database under "Rare Disease Information".

The information provided in this report is not intended for diagnostic purposes. It is provided for informational purposes only.

It is possible that the title of this topic is not the name you selected. Please check the Synonyms listing to find the alternate name(s) and Disorder Subdivision(s) covered by this report.

This disease entry is based upon medical information available through the date at the end of the topic. Since NORD's resources are limited, it is not possible to keep every entry in the Rare Disease Database completely current and accurate. Please check with the agencies listed in the Resources section for the most current information about this disorder.

Last Updated:  2/24/2012
Copyright  2012 National Organization for Rare Disorders, Inc.