Pulmonary lymphangioleimyomatosis (PLAM) is a rare disease involving lung. PLAM primarily affects young women, a characteristic it shares with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Estrogen has long been assumed to play an important role both in PLAM and SLE. We report a menopausal woman, who was found to have PLAM 1 year after she was diagnosed with SLE. Her chest radiograph was normal in the early phase of SLE.
A 52-year-old Chinese woman was referred to our hospital in August 2014 because of swelling in both legs. She also reported a malar rash and intermittent generalized arthralgia. Laboratory examination showed leukopenia. Her serum albumin level was 23 g/L; 24-h urinary protein excretion was 5.3 g. She tested positive for anti-Smith (Sm) antibody and anti-SS-A antibody. Renal biopsy indicated Class V + IV(G)-A lupus nephritis (LN). The condition of SLE and LN improved on a regime of tapering prednisolone and intermittent intravenous cyclophosphamide therapy until 1 year later when she developed exertional dyspnea accompanied with frequent cough. Thoracic computed tomography revealed numerous well-defined cysts and the diagnosis of PLAM was confirmed by lung biopsy. In the follow-up period, the patient continued to be on prednisolone and mycophenolate mofetil for the treatment of SLE, but only agreed to receive symptomatic treatment for PLAM. One year after the diagnosis of PLAM, during which time the SLE was stable, she died of respiratory failure and cor pulmonale.
We report a patient with coexisting SLE and PLAM, who was treated with immunosuppressive therapy. SLE was stable but PLAM was not improved. Although the coexistence of SLE and PLAM might be a coincidence, the occurrence of these two diseases in a menopausal woman may warrant further mechanistic exploration.