How I treat warts, hypogammaglobulinemia, infections, and myelokathexis (WHIM) syndrome

Raffaele Badolato and Jean Donadieu


Warts, hypogammaglobulinemia, infections, and myelokathexis (WHIM) syndrome is a genetic disease characterized by neutropenia, lymphopenia, susceptibility to infections, and myelokathexis, which describes degenerative changes of mature neutrophils and hyperplasia of bone marrow myeloid cells. Some patients present with hypogammaglobulinemia and/or refractory warts of skin and genitalia. Congenital cardiac defects constitute uncommon manifestations of the disease. The disorder, which is inherited as an autosomal dominant trait, is caused by heterozygous mutations of the chemokine receptor CXCR4. These mutations lead to an increased sensitivity of neutrophils and lymphocytes to the unique ligand CXCL12 and to an increased accumulation of mature neutrophils in the bone marrow. Despite greatly improved knowledge of the disease, therapeutic choices are insufficient to prevent some of the disease outcomes, such as development of bronchiectasis, anogenital dysplasia or invasive cancer. We will discuss the available therapeutic measures aimed at preventing the risk for infection in WHIM patients. Then, we will critically evaluate the diagnostic criteria of WHIM syndrome, particularly when WHIM syndrome should be suspected in patients with congenital neutropenia and lymphopenia despite the absence of hypogammabulinemia and/or warts. Finally, we will discuss recent results of trials evaluating plerixafor, a selective antagonist of CXCR4, as a mechanism-oriented strategy for the treatment of WHIM patients.

  • Submitted February 17, 2017.
  • Accepted October 16, 2017.