Rosai-Dorfman Disease of Soft Tissue

Rosai-Dorfman Disease of Soft Tissue

Elizabeth A. Montgomery, MD

Low-power image of extranodal (soft tissue) Rosai-Dorfman disease shows proliferating histiocytes that are spindled, infiltrating fat. Lymphoid aggregates are present.

S100 protein shows labeling of the proliferating histiocytes. The staining pattern is not diffuse and must be correlated with the morphology. Some labeled cells are dendritic cells.



  • Rosai-Dorfman disease (RDD)


  • Sinus histiocytosis with massive lymphadenopathy (SHML)

    • Applies to disease involving lymph nodes


  • Rare, acquired, nonmalignant proliferation of distinctive histiocytes that presents with lymphadenopathy or extranodal disease

    • Lesional histiocytes contain variable numbers of intact lymphocytes within cytoplasm

      • Phenomenon referred to as lymphophagocytosis or emperipolesis

    • Primarily in children and young adults


Exuberant Hematopoietic Response to Undetermined Immunologic Trigger

  • Association with autoimmune lymphoproliferative syndrome has been described

    • Inherited disorder of lymphocyte-programmed cell death with mutations in death receptor genes that specifically eliminate apoptosis in lymphocyte subsets

    • Occurs primarily in early childhood

    • May represent acquired disorder of deregulation of apoptotic signaling pathways

  • Various infections associated with cases of RDD/SHML, but none proven as etiologic infectious agent

    • Parvovirus

    • Epstein-Barr virus

    • HHV6



  • Varies with site

    • Painless lymphadenopathy is most frequent presenting symptom

      • Involves cervical region in up to 90% of patients

  • 30-45% of patients have at least 1 site of extranodal involvement as well as lymph node involvement

    • Hepatosplenomegaly uncommon

  • ˜ 25% of patients have extranodal disease only

  • Skin and soft tissue most common extranodal site

  • Approximate frequency of extranodal sites

    • Skin and soft tissue (16%)

    • Nasal cavity and paranasal sinuses (16%)

    • Eye, orbit, and ocular adnexa (11%)

    • Bone (11%)

    • Salivary gland (7%)

    • Central nervous system (7%)

    • Oral cavity (4%)

    • Kidney and genitourinary tract (3%)

    • Respiratory tract (3%)

    • Liver (1%)

    • Tonsil (1%)

    • Breast (< 1%)

    • Gastrointestinal tract (< 1%)

    • Heart (< 1%)

  • Simultaneous involvement of multiple extranodal sites not unusual

  • Involvement of kidney, lower respiratory tract, and liver associated with worse clinical outcome (as is number of extranodal sites)


  • Most patients require little intervention


  • Most patients have complete and spontaneous remission

  • Some may experience recurrent or persistent but stable lymphadenopathy

  • In very few cases, disease follows aggressive course and may be fatal

    • Poor prognosis correlates with widespread dissemination, involvement of kidneys, lower respiratory tract, liver, and immunologic abnormalities or anemia


General Features

  • In soft tissues and other extranodal sites

    • Firm, poorly marginated lesion

  • In lymph nodes

    • Firm, massively enlarged lymph nodes

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Jul 9, 2016 | Posted by in PATHOLOGY & LABORATORY MEDICINE | Comments Off on Rosai-Dorfman Disease of Soft Tissue
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