Medicine (MD/DO)
Other Hematologic Pathology
Hemophagocytic Lymphohistiocytosis

Master Hemophagocytic Lymphohistiocytosis with Picmonic for Medicine

With Picmonic, facts become pictures. We've taken what the science shows - image mnemonics work - but we've boosted the effectiveness by building and associating memorable characters, interesting audio stories, and built-in quizzing.

Hemophagocytic Lymphohistiocytosis

Recommended Picmonics

picmonic thumbnail
Primary Myelofibrosis
picmonic thumbnail
Tumor Lysis Syndrome
picmonic thumbnail
Snake Bite Injury
picmonic thumbnail
Langerhans Cell Histiocytosis
picmonic thumbnail
Essential Thrombocythemia

Hemophagocytic Lymphohistiocytosis

He-man-fang-ocyte Lime-history
Hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis is a life-threatening hematologic disorder involving severe inflammation due to increased activity of cytotoxic T cells and macrophages which leads to cytokine storm. It can be acquired or sporadic. Clinical features include fever and hepatosplenomegaly. Laboratory findings include increased serum ferritin and pancytopenia. Definitive management involves bone marrow transplantation.
Excessive Immune System Activation
Excessive Immune-Moon

In HLH, there is excessive activation of CD8+ T-Cells. Most commonly, this occurs due to Epstein-Barr virus infection.

Cytotoxic T-cells and Macrophages
Side-toe-toxic-green Tennis-ball and Mac-man

CD8+ T-cells release IFN-γ that in turn activates macrophages. This disrupts the immune homeostasis and phagocytosis of all blood cells takes place.

Cytokine Storm
Side-toe-kite in Storm

The cross-talk between various cells of the immune system forms an auto-amplification loop. This cross-talk is by pro-inflammatory cytokines primarily TNF-alpha, IL-1, and IFN-gamma. IL-6 and IL-12 are also implicated.

Acquired or Sporadic
Acquired-magnet and Sporadic-spear

Sporadic cases are associated with Chediak-Higashi syndrome. It can be acquired secondary to EBV infection or malignancy, usually lymphomas.


Fever is typically seen in hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis. This is due to massive interleukin-1 release, which raises the temperature setpoint of the hypothalamus.


Hepatosplenomegaly can occur from extramedullary hematopoiesis because the medullary space is undergoing increased hemophagocytosis.

Increased Ferritin
Up-arrow Ferret-tin

Serum ferritin is an acute-phase reactant that is upregulated by TNF-alpha. It is characteristically elevated in patients with HLH.


Pancytopenia is defined as a decrease in the number of all cell lines in the blood i.e erythrocytes, leukocytes, and platelets. It is due to phagocytosis.

Bone Marrow Transplantation
Bone Train-plant

Immunosuppressants are used to control cytokine storm. Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation is potentially curative and is the only definitive treatment.


Take the Hemophagocytic Lymphohistiocytosis Quiz

Picmonic's rapid review multiple-choice quiz allows you to assess your knowledge.

It's worth every penny

Our Story Mnemonics Increase Mastery and Retention

Memorize facts with phonetic mnemonics

Unforgettable characters with concise but impactful videos (2-4 min each)

Memorize facts with phonetic mnemonics

Ace Your Medicine (MD/DO) Classes & Exams with Picmonic:

Over 1,880,000 students use Picmonic’s picture mnemonics to improve knowledge, retention, and exam performance.

Choose the #1 Medicine (MD/DO) student study app.

Picmonic for Medicine (MD/DO) covers information that is relevant to your entire Medicine (MD/DO) education. Whether you’re studying for your classes or getting ready to conquer the USMLE Step 1, USMLE Step 2 CK, COMLEX Level 1, or COMLEX Level 2, we’re here to help.

Works better than traditional Medicine (MD/DO) flashcards.

Research shows that students who use Picmonic see a 331% improvement in memory retention and a 50% improvement in test scores.