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Disease Profile

Multicentric reticulohistiocytosis

Prevalence estimates on Rare Medical Network websites are calculated based on data available from numerous sources, including US and European government statistics, the NIH, Orphanet, and published epidemiologic studies. Rare disease population data is recognized to be highly variable, and based on a wide variety of source data and methodologies, so the prevalence data on this site should be assumed to be estimated and cannot be considered to be absolutely correct.


US Estimated

Europe Estimated

Age of onset






Autosomal dominant A pathogenic variant in only one gene copy in each cell is sufficient to cause an autosomal dominant disease.


Autosomal recessive Pathogenic variants in both copies of each gene of the chromosome are needed to cause an autosomal recessive disease and observe the mutant phenotype.


dominant X-linked dominant inheritance, sometimes referred to as X-linked dominance, is a mode of genetic inheritance by which a dominant gene is carried on the X chromosome.


recessive Pathogenic variants in both copies of a gene on the X chromosome cause an X-linked recessive disorder.


Mitochondrial or multigenic Mitochondrial genetic disorders can be caused by changes (mutations) in either the mitochondrial DNA or nuclear DNA that lead to dysfunction of the mitochondria and inadequate production of energy.


Multigenic or multifactor Inheritance involving many factors, of which at least one is genetic but none is of overwhelming importance, as in the causation of a disease by multiple genetic and environmental factors.


Not applicable



Skin Diseases


Multicentric reticulohistiocytosis is a disease that is characterized by the presence of papules and nodules and associated with arthritis mutilans.[1] The disease can involve the skin, the bones, the tendons, the muscles, the joints, and nearly any other organ (e.g., eyes, larynx, thyroid, salivary glands, bone marrow, heart, lung, kidney, liver, gastrointestinal tract). In the majority of cases, the cause of multicentric reticulohistiocytosis is unknown; however, it has been associated with an underlying cancer in about one fourth of cases, suggesting that it may be a paraneoplastic syndrome.[2][3]


The main symptoms of multicentric reticulohistiocytosis are arthritis and red to purple skin nodules varying in size from 1 to 10 mm. The nodules can be found on any part of the body but tend to concentrate on the face and hands and decrease in number from head to toe.[2][4] The arthritis is most often symmetrical and polyarticular (affecting many joints). Unlike adult rheumatoid arthritis, it does not spare the joints closest to the fingertips. It can be severely destructive, and in one third of cases it progresses to arthritis multilans. Further history reveals that approximately one third of patients complain of symptoms such as fever, weight loss, and malaise; less often, pericarditis and myositis are present.[2][4]

The clinical presentation of multicentric reticulohistiocytosis is insidious in onset and begins with arthritic complaints in approximately two thirds of patients. It is potentially one of the most rapidly destructive forms of arthritis. Joint involvement remits and relapses, gradually worsening into a debilitating and permanent arthritis multilans. The severity of the damage has been reported to be related to the age of onset; therefore, the earlier one has symptoms, the more severe the symptoms tend to be. Like the associated arthritis, skin lesions tend to wax and wane until the disease spontaneously resolves, but may leave permanent disfigurement.[4]

This table lists symptoms that people with this disease may have. For most diseases, symptoms will vary from person to person. People with the same disease may not have all the symptoms listed. This information comes from a database called the Human Phenotype Ontology (HPO) . The HPO collects information on symptoms that have been described in medical resources. The HPO is updated regularly. Use the HPO ID to access more in-depth information about a symptom.

Medical Terms Other Names
Learn More:
80%-99% of people have these symptoms
Joint inflammation
Skin nodule
5%-29% of people have these symptoms
Wasting syndrome
Muscle weakness
Muscular weakness


Dermatologists and rheumatologists are often the types of specialists that oversee the treatment of patients with multicentric reticulohistiocytosis. Although no specific therapy has consistently been shown to improve multicentric reticulohistiocytosis, many different drugs have been used.[3] For instance, therapy with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents (e.g., aspirin or ibuprofen) may help the arthritisSystemic corticosteroids and/or cytotoxic agents, particularly cyclophosphamide, chlorambucil, or methotrexate, may affect the inflammatory response, prevent further joint destruction, and cause skin lesions to regress. Antimalarials (e.g., hydroxychloroquine and mefloquine) have also been used. Alendronate and other bisphosphonates have been reported to be effective in at least one patient and etanercept and infliximab have been effective in some.[5]


Support and advocacy groups can help you connect with other patients and families, and they can provide valuable services. Many develop patient-centered information and are the driving force behind research for better treatments and possible cures. They can direct you to research, resources, and services. Many organizations also have experts who serve as medical advisors or provide lists of doctors/clinics. Visit the group’s website or contact them to learn about the services they offer. Inclusion on this list is not an endorsement by GARD.

Organizations Supporting this Disease

    Social Networking Websites

      Organizations Providing General Support

        Learn more

        These resources provide more information about this condition or associated symptoms. The in-depth resources contain medical and scientific language that may be hard to understand. You may want to review these resources with a medical professional.

        Where to Start

        • DermNet NZ is an online resource about skin diseases developed by the New Zealand Dermatological Society Incorporated. DermNet NZ provides information about this condition.

          In-Depth Information

          • Medscape Reference provides information on this topic. You may need to register to view the medical textbook, but registration is free.
          • The Monarch Initiative brings together data about this condition from humans and other species to help physicians and biomedical researchers. Monarch’s tools are designed to make it easier to compare the signs and symptoms (phenotypes) of different diseases and discover common features. This initiative is a collaboration between several academic institutions across the world and is funded by the National Institutes of Health. Visit the website to explore the biology of this condition.
          • Orphanet is a European reference portal for information on rare diseases and orphan drugs. Access to this database is free of charge.
          • PubMed is a searchable database of medical literature and lists journal articles that discuss Multicentric reticulohistiocytosis. Click on the link to view a sample search on this topic.


            1. Chakravarty EF, Genovese MC. Chapter 111 -Musculoskeletal Syndromes in Malignancy. Harris: Kelley’s Textbook of Rheumatology, 7th ed.. Philadelphia, PA: W.B. Saunders Company; 2005;
            2. West SG. Chapter 297 -Systemic Diseases in Which Arthritis is a Feature. Goldman: Cecil Textbook of Medicine, 23rd ed.. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2008;
            3. Rapini RP, Morgan LT. Dermatologic Manifestations of Multicentric Reticulohistiocytosis . Medscape Reference . June 6, 2012; https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1058248-overview. Accessed 9/28/2012.
            4. Hsiung et al.. Multicentric reticulohistiocytosis presenting with clinical features of dermatomyositis. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. 2003;
            5. Callen JP. Multicentric Reticulohistiocytosis. Medscape Reference. August 16, 2011; https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/283885-overview. Accessed 9/28/2012.

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