Recurrent aseptic meningitis in association with Kikuchi-Fujimoto disease: case report and literature review
© Komagamine et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2012
Received: 2 May 2012
Accepted: 26 September 2012
Published: 29 September 2012
Kikuchi Fujimoto disease (KFD), or histiocytic necrotising lymphadenitis, is a benign and self-limiting condition characterised by primarily affecting the cervical lymph nodes. Recurrent aseptic meningitis in association with KFD is extremely rare and remains a diagnostic challenge.
We report a 28-year-old man who presented 7 episodes of aseptic meningitis associated with KFD over the course of 7 years. Histopathological findings of enlarged lymph nodes led to the diagnosis of KFD. The patient’s headache and lymphadenopathy spontaneously resolved without any sequelae.
A diagnosis of KFD should be considered when enlarged cervical lymph nodes are observed in patients with recurrent aseptic meningitis. A long-term prognosis remains uncertain, and careful follow-up is preferred.
KeywordsRecurrent aseptic meningitis Kikuchi-Fujimoto disease Histiocytic necrotising lymphadenitis SLE
Kikuchi-Fujimoto disease (KFD), or histiocytic necrotising lymphadenitis, is recognised as a benign lymphadenopathy that has acute or sub-acute onset and is primarily localised within the cervical lymph nodes. KFD has various extranodal manifestations, including skin lesions, gastrointestinal symptoms or splenomegaly . Neurological complications, including aseptic meningitis, mononeuritis multiplex or acute cerebellar ataxia, are not common , and a meta-analysis of 244 KFD cases in 181 published case reports demonstrated 11% of incidence of neurological involvements . The most common neurological complication is aseptic meningitis, which is observed in 2.8-9.8% of KFD cases [4, 5]. KFD usually resolves spontaneously within a few months, and the recurrence rate is 3-4% . Recurrent aseptic meningitis associated with KFD is an extremely rare condition, and only 4 sporadic cases have been reported [7–10]. In this study, we describe a KFD patient who presented with 7 episodes of recurrent meningitis. We also investigate the clinical and laboratory features of 4 patients previously reported in the literature.
Upon admission, day 12, the patient was alert and had pyrexia of 39°C and severe headache with positive Kernig's Sign. The palpable tender lymph nodes with 10 mm in size were present on the right posterior neck, similar to a recent meningitis episode. No other neurological deficits were noted. Laboratory analysis revealed no abnormalities in the patient’s complete blood cell count or liver and thyroid function tests. His serum CRP and IgE levels were elevated, measuring 2.5 mg/dL (normal, <0.3) and 6950 mg/dL (normal, < 295), respectively. The cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) examination showed a crystal clear appearance and pleocytosis of 27 cells/mm3 (97% mononuclear cells) with a protein concentration of 31 mg/dL (normal, < 45). The CSF glucose/glycaemia ratio was 0.86 with sterile bacterial, tuberculosis and fungal cultures. A CSF polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay for the herpes simplex virus (HSV) was negative. The patient recovered after the administration of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs as a symptomatic treatment and was discharged in remission on day 26.
Subsequently, the patient was re-admitted on day 37 with headache and remittent fever. He was febrile with re-appearance of Kernig's Sign. The posterior cervical lymph nodes were enlarged and tender bilaterally. Additionally, the patient also had oral aphthae and skin rashes on his trunk along with atopic dermatitis. He was alert, and no focal neurological deficit was noted. A complete blood count revealed leukocytopaenia (2.7 x 109/L) with 1% of atypical lymphocytes. A biochemical examination showed abnormal levels with LDH 729 U/L (normal, <220), ferritin 2660 ng/mL (normal, 25–280) and an erythrocyte sedimentation rate of 59 mm/h (normal, <10). IgE and CRP assays exhibited higher levels than those of previous tests, with values of 10400 mg/dL and CRP 6.5 mg/dL being observed, respectively. Serum anti-nuclear and anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic antibodies and rheumatoid factor were within normal range. The complement 3 level was slightly elevated with 194 mg/dL (normal, 65–135). Human leukocyte antigen B51 was negative. The evidence of other infectious agents, such as human hepatitis viruses B and C, human T-cell lymphoma virus-1, syphilis, HSV-1 and 2, varicella-zoster virus (VZV), cytomegalovirus, Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), human herpes virus type 6 (HHV-6) and toxoplasmosis (Toxoplasma gondii) were not detected. A CSF examination revealed a pleocytosis of 16 cells/mm3 (97% mononuclear cells) and a protein concentration of 28 mg/dL, as well as a CSF glucose/glycaemia ratio of 0.75 with sterile bacterial, tuberculosis and fungal cultures. CSF PCRs for HSV, HHV-6, VZV and tuberculosis were negative. The patient’s CSF IgE level was not elevated (19 IU/ml, IgE index 0.03). Splenomegaly was present upon abdominal echograph. No enlargement of deep lymph nodes was detected using computed tomography. Moreover, brain magnetic resonance imaging showed no structural abnormalities.
The patient did not receive medication during his second admission. Also, his symptoms and CSF parameters spontaneously resolved within two weeks. His enlarged lymph nodes gradually decreased in size. The patient was discharged in remission on day 49, and he remains headache-free after 28 months of follow-up.
Since KFD was first described by both a pathologist and physician independently in 1972 [11, 12], the aetiology of KFD remains largely unknown. The histopathological features of affected lymph nodes in KFD are, on occasion, notably similar to those of SLE . Therefore, pathogenic linkage between the two disorders has been proposed [1, 13]. Infectious agents, including toxoplasmosis, EBV, and HHV-6, have also been considered as possible causal agents, but several studies have failed to confirm their association [13, 14]. There is no specific treatment for KFD because of its unknown aetiology. In general, the patients are treated symptomatically; for example, relief of local and systemic complaints with the use of analgesics, antipyretics and rest . Furthermore, corticosteroids may be effective in severe cases or for a relapsing condition .
The clinical features of recurrent aseptic meningitis cases with Kikuchi-Fujimoto disease
Case and reference number
5 (present case)
Maximum Cerebrospinal fluid cell count/mm3
Duration of the meningitis episode
10 – 20 days
Interval between each episode
5 months, 11 months
1 week to 6 years
High titre of anti-Toxoplasma antibody
Elevation of serum IgE
High titre of antinuclear antibody
Elevation of serum IgE
Intravenous methyl prednisolone,
Our patient had concurrent atopic dermatitis, and his serum IgE levels were elevated along with exacerbation from meningitis and lymphadenitis. Because IgE was not elevated in the CSF, his high serum IgE titre did not appear to play a pathogenic role in aseptic meningitis. A prior case with an elevation of serum IgE in recurrent aseptic meningitis with KFD has been reported . In this study, we speculate that IgE elevation may be reflected the immunostimulatory condition that was activated upon KFD in a patient with atopic dermatitis. A striking histopathological feature of KFD is the clustering of the plasmacytoid dendritic cells at the margins of the necrotic foci of affected lymph node . Plasmacytoid dendritic cells are known to produce type I interferon in response to viral infection and to induce human memory B cells to differentiate into plasma cells and produce immunoglobulin . Type I interferon is known as a potential pathogenic agent in the SLE-related neurological involvement . Moreover, the high titre of antinuclear antibodies had also been observed in another case . The progression of recurrent aseptic meningitis with KFD may stem from pathogenic association with SLE or other autoimmune disorders. Further studies are necessary to clarify this hypothesis.
Recurrent aseptic meningitis with KFD is extremely rare condition. However, awareness of KFD as the differential diagnosis for meningitis might assist with diagnosis of patients presenting with lymphadenopathy. Early excisional lymph node biopsy should be considered to avoid unnecessary treatments. Temporary corticosteroid treatment may be beneficial to patients that present with recurrent meningitis with KFD, although this treatment’s long-term efficacy remains uncertain. Because of the association with SLE, patient follow-up visit is necessary upon subsequent development of symptoms.
Written informed consent was obtained from the patient for the publication of this case report.
The study was approved by the Human Ethics Review Committee of Dokkyo Medical University.
Human herpes virus type 6
Herpes simplex virus
Kikuchi Fujimoto disease
Polymerase chain reaction
Systemic lupus erythematosus
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