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Open access

Yuji Kadowaki, Mitsuru Nishiyama, Makoto Nakamura, Hiroyuki Morisaka, Shimpei Fujimoto, Yoshio Terada, and Kensuke Kojima

Summary

Langerhans cell histiocytosis (LCH) is a rare disease characterized by the proliferation of abnormal Langerhans cells in various tissues and organs, including bone, skin, the lungs, and the pituitary gland. Hypothalamic–pituitary lesions in LCH often cause central diabetes insipidus (CDI), but the natural course of LCH in the CNS remains to be elucidated. In this study, we report an interesting case of altered LCH lesions in the CNS from the pituitary to the hypothalamus in a 45-year-old woman. She developed symptoms of polyuria and was diagnosed with CDI with lymphocytic hypophysitis due to an enlarged pituitary gland with stalk thickening shown on MRI. Short-term glucocorticoid therapy cured pituitary enlargement, but serum prolactin levels gradually increased. Six years later, the immunohistological findings of a skin biopsy revealed positive for leukocyte common antigen, S-100, and CD1a expression, indicating a diagnosis of LCH. MRI revealed a new lesion in the hypothalamus without pituitary involvement, likely due to LCH. Chemotherapy improved LCH lesions both in the skin and hypothalamus, but therapy was stopped on the patient’s request. Although adult-onset LCH is rare, it should be considered as a differential diagnosis in cases of CDI as the primary disease. The clinical course in the present case indicated that LCH lesion was altered from pituitary to suprasellar extension; where such changes were observed, the possibility of LCH should be considered.

Learning points

  • Diagnosing the primary disease of CDI is challenging; therefore, careful observation is necessary in pathologically unknown cases.

  • Enhanced MRI should be performed in cases with suspected hypothalamic lesions, such as elevated serum prolactin.

  • Although adult-onset LCH is rare, it should be considered a differential diagnosis in cases of CDI as the primary disease.

  • The direction of changing CNS lesion from pituitary to suprasellar extension might be a unique MRI finding in LCH.