Stepwise Treatment for TAFRO Syndrome

Makoto Ide, Tomoko Yokoyama, Masashi Ishikawa, Kazuki Kojima


TAFRO syndrome, a rapidly progressive and fatal disease, is rare, and its etiology remains unknown. It is characterized by thrombocytopenia, anasarca (edema, pleural effusion, and ascites), fever, reticulin fibrosis (or renal insufficiency), and organomegaly with Castleman disease (CD)-like histological features in the lymph nodes. CD is a rare, indolent, lymphoproliferative disorder with no established curative strategies. Most idiopathic multicentric CD cases are controlled with anti-interleukin (IL)-6 therapy (tocilizumab and siltuximab) and/or rituximab. However, it is unclear whether these therapies can be directly applied to treat TAFRO syndrome. Here, we describe stepwise immunotherapy (rituximab induction therapy and cyclosporine maintenance therapy) for two cases of steroid-refractory TAFRO syndrome. A 32-year-old man visited a local hospital with sudden onset of fever and epigastralgia. The diagnosis of TAFRO syndrome was established based on the diagnostic criteria. After rituximab administration, C-reactive protein and IL-6 levels were normalized. However, the ascites persisted, with increased resistance to rituximab. Tocilizumab was also ineffective; therefore, cyclosporine was administered. After the initiation of cyclosporine treatment, the ascites decreased and ultimately disappeared. Twelve months after immunotherapy, the patient remained asymptomatic under cyclosporine maintenance therapy. Similar stepwise immunosuppressive therapy was administered to a 72-year-old man with TAFRO syndrome complicated by renal failure. After rituximab infusion, C-reactive protein was decreased. Although methylprednisolone, rituximab, tocilizumab, and cyclosporine were administered, other laboratory data and clinical symptoms remained unchanged. His level of consciousness subsequently deteriorated due to herpes zoster encephalitis, and he died. We consider the combination of rituximab induction therapy and cyclosporine maintenance therapy to be effective for TAFRO syndrome if initiated at an early stage.

J Med Cases. 2023;14(11):369-377


TAFRO syndrome; Castleman disease; Immunotherapy

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