Pediatric liver transplantation for langerhans' cell histiocytosis



Langerhans' cell histiocytosis (LCH) represents 15% to 20% of sclerosing cholangitis (SC) in children. In LCH-associated SC, a very poor response to chemotherapy has been reported, and spontaneous prognosis is very bad. Few cases of orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT) for LCH have been reported and little is known about the risk of recurrence and the effect of immunosuppression after OLT. Since 1986, five children (mean age ± SD, 12.6 ± 3.6 years) underwent OLT for SC complicating LCH. All patients presented with growth retardation, and severe liver disease including repeated episodes of variceal bleeding (n = 5), liver insufficiency (n = 4), jaundice (n = 5), and ascitis (n = 4). Four patients presented with previous abdominal surgery (mesocaval shunt in two and explorative laparotomy in two). OLT was performed using a whole (n = 2) or a reduced liver graft (n = 3). Pathological examination of the recipient liver showed biliary cirrhosis in all cases. Three patients are alive and well 9 to 88 months after OLT. None presented with recurrence of LCH or SC within the liver graft or in other organs. General condition (including growth and puberty) improved dramatically in the three surviving patients. Absence of recurrence after up to 7 years of follow-up after liver transplantation in our patients, as well as in all other reported cases, is encouraging and shows that OLT may be indicated in end-stage liver disease complicating LCH. Furthermore, cyclosporine may be beneficial for preventing recurrence of LCH, in which autoimmunologic mechanisms have been advocated. (Hepatology 1995;21:129–133).