Thyroid gland
Other malignancies
Langerhans cell histiocytosis

Topic Completed: 1 December 2014

Minor changes: 15 March 2019

Copyright: 2014-2018,, Inc.

PubMed Search: Langerhans cell histiocytosis thyroid

Sheren Younes, M.D.
Page views in 2019: 261
Page views in 2020 to date: 128
Cite this page: Younes S. Langerhans cell histiocytosis. website. Accessed July 7th, 2020.
Definition / general
  • Clonal proliferation of Langerhans cells
  • Thyroid involvement is rare
  • Isolated or part of disseminated disease
  • Adults more than children, reported in both
  • No sex predilection
Clinical features
  • Thyroid mass or enlargement, must rule out malignant lesions
  • Thyroid function may be affected depending on degree of involvement
  • Combination of clinical, radiologic, cytologic and histopathologic features
  • Immunohistochemistry and electron microscopy may play a role
Prognostic factors
Case reports
  • Chemotherapy and surgery
Microscopic (histologic) description
  • Patchy to extensive involvement of thyroid gland, with follicle invasion and destruction
  • May show extrathyroid involvement
  • Langerhans cells have moderate eosinophilic cytoplasm and oval nuclei with grooves and a thin nuclear membrane
  • Also eosinophils, lymphocytes, multinucleated histiocytes
Microscopic (histologic) images

Images hosted on other servers:

Langerhans cell centrally located

High cellularity

Nests of tumor cells and eosinophils

Cytology description
  • Smears contain numerous histiocytic cells with moderate to abundant pale eosinophilic cytoplasm, ovoid to rounded vesicular nuclei, nuclear grooves
  • Moderate to marked pleomorphism is seen
  • Also eosinophils, lymphocytes, giant cells
  • Normal thyroid follicular cells and histiocytes are present (Acta Cytol 2004;48:278)
Negative stains
Electron microscopy description
  • Birbeck granules: tennis racquet or zipper shaped structures, 33 nm wide with central serrated line
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