Visceral leishmaniasis in patients with lymphoma: Case reports and review of the literature


Medicine (Baltimore). 2020 Nov 6;99(45):e22787. doi: 10.1097/MD.0000000000022787.


INTRODUCTION: Non-HIV-related visceral leishmaniasis (VL) is becoming increasingly prevalent in nontropical countries because of the increasing number of patients with chronic diseases and the development of immune-modulating drugs.

PATIENT CONCERNS: Case 1 is a 60-year-old male patient of Senegalese origin presented with weight loss, lymphadenopathy, anemia, and elevated lactate dehydrogenases. Case 2 is a 46-year-old male patient of Algerian origin, with a negative HIV serology presented with cutaneous lesions.

DIAGNOSIS: Patient 1: The diagnosis of stage IV lymphocytic lymphoma (LL) was confirmed by an inguinal nodal biopsy in 2013. Patient 2: The diagnosis of T-cell lymphoma was made in 2003.

INTERVENTIONS: Patient 1 received 5 cycles of bendamustine and rituximab followed by a complete remission. Patient 2 was initially treated with >10 different treatments followed by 8 different chemotherapy regimens due to the disease progression.

OUTCOMES: Patient 1: In 2017, after a follow-up of 4 years, the patient presented with fever, lymphadenopathy, splenomegaly, and pancytopenia in the setting of hemophagocytic syndrome. The initial diagnosis was a relapse of lymphoma and the patient was treated with ibrutinib. His status worsened, and Leishmania DNA was detected by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) on the blood and bone marrow aspirates. Ibrutinib was stopped. Amphotericin B treatment induced a complete clinical remission and clearance of Leishmania DNA from the blood.Patient 2: In 2017, after a follow-up of 14 years, the patient presented with fever, lymphadenopathy, hepatosplenomegaly, pancytopenia with hemophagocytic syndrome, and an increase in the tumor skin lesions. A skin biopsy was taken from the face and the patient. A careful reexamination of the skin biopsy revealed the presence of Leishmania bodies. He was treated with 40 mg/kg liposomal amphotericin B leading to a regression of the clinical symptoms and negativation of the blood PCR.

CONCLUSIONS: This case study shows that VL may be a diagnostic challenge in patients with lymphoma. Reactivation or primary infection should be considered in the differential diagnosis. The purpose of this study is to remind clinicians to think of VL in patients with systemic symptoms that could be misdiagnosed as a progression of the underlying lymphoma.