What are the possible complications of autoimmune lymphoproliferative syndrome (ALPS)?

Updated: Jul 29, 2019
  • Author: Akaluck Thatayatikom, MD, RhMSUS; Chief Editor: Harumi Jyonouchi, MD  more...
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Complications of ALPS include the development of lymphoma or other malignancy and the development of pneumococcal sepsis or other serious systemic infection (secondary to splenectomy, autoimmune neutropenia, or both; see the image below).

A patient with autoimmune lymphoproliferative synd A patient with autoimmune lymphoproliferative syndrome (ALPS) who developed pneumococcal sepsis, a serious complication secondary to neutropenia and asplenia. Note the patient's cochlear implant; he has neurosensory hearing loss from prior episode of pneumococcal meningitis.

Patients with genetic mutations that affect the intracellular domain of the FAS protein have a more severe clinical manifestation from early childhood and are found to have a 51-fold higher risk of Hodgkin lymphoma and a 14-fold increased risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. A report on the largest cohort of ALPS patients worldwide showed an approximate 6% incidence of lymphoma in patients with ALPS overall, with a median age at presentation of 17 years. [41]

Lymphadenopathy in ALPS patients with lymphoma can be especially difficult to discern because persistent lymphadenopathy is common even as the patient progresses into adulthood. Like any sporadic lymphomas, however, ALPS-associated lymphomas are amenable to chemotherapy and should be managed accordingly. ALPS-associated lymphadenopathy and splenomegaly tend to become less prominent with age. In patients who have undergone splenectomy, asplenia-related sepsis is a significant lifelong cause of morbidity and mortality. [16]  Long-term management with steroid-sparing medication and avoiding splenectomy are strongly recommended to preserve some antipolysaccharide response.

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