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Omenn Syndrome Treatment & Management

  • Author: Robert A Schwartz, MD, MPH; Chief Editor: Harumi Jyonouchi, MD  more...
Updated: Feb 16, 2016

Medical Care

Conventional care for any patient with severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) includes isolation to prevent infection and also meticulous skin and mucosal hygienic care while the patient is awaiting stem cell reconstitution. Signs of sepsis and pulmonary infections may be subtle; thus, fever alone requires a detailed search for infectious agents. Empirical broad-spectrum antibiotics are administered parenterally while cultures and body fluid analyses are in progress. Consider prophylactic treatment with nystatin to prevent mucocutaneous candidiasis. In individual cases, prophylaxis with antiviral agents (eg, acyclovir) or antibiotics may be appropriate. Parenteral nutrition is customarily provided as therapy for diarrhea and failure to thrive.

Bone marrow or other stem cell reconstitution is first-line conventional therapy for most forms of SCID, including Omenn syndrome, although the mortality rate is higher when compared to other types of SCID. Workup includes major histocompatibility complex (MHC) typing to identify a fully matched sibling, or, in the case of consanguinity, possibly a parent. Reconstitution by using a matched unrelated donor or haploidentical parent has also been successful, although more complications and higher mortality have been reported. Preparatory immunosuppression of malfunctioning activated T cells has decreased the incidence of graft failure in Omenn syndrome. Nutritional support and T-cell suppression prior to BMT may reduce the risk of complications. Pretransplantional evaluation routinely includes testing of the recipient and the donor for infectious agents, such as cytomegalovirus (CMV), HIV, and hepatitis viruses.

Specific therapy for dermatitis and eosinophilia in Omenn syndrome is immunosuppression with cyclosporine. Interferon gamma has been administered in an attempt to down-regulate interleukin 4 (IL-4) and interleukin 5 (IL-5) production by the oligoclonal Th2 cells. Interferon gamma may independently modulate the inflammatory reaction by enhancing phagocytic functions.

Ancillary therapy includes intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) replacement. Live viral vaccines should not be administered.

In the future, the identification of the recombinase mutations as the cause of Omenn syndrome should enable gene transfer therapy. At this time, successful gene therapy is available only for the X-linked T-B+ form of SCID, in which mutations in the common γ chain are necessary for function of the cell surface receptors of interleukin 2 (IL-2), IL-4, interleukin 7 (IL-7), interleukin 9 (IL-9), and interleukin 15 (IL-15).



Promptly initiate workup for stem cell reconstitution with the bone marrow transplant (BMT) team. In the meantime, consult a gastroenterologist and a nutritionist for important support.



A patient with chronic diarrhea and a failure to thrive requires consultation with a gastroenterologist and nutritionist to adequately provide calories, nutrients, and vitamins. Parenteral or enteral nutrition supplementation is usually necessary.



Infants with any form of SCID should be isolated to decrease the risk of common viral and bacterial infections. Patients should avoid crowds in locations such as stores, doctors' offices, and hospitals, and they and their caregivers should engage in customary hygiene practices such as strict hand washing.

Contributor Information and Disclosures

Robert A Schwartz, MD, MPH Professor and Head of Dermatology, Professor of Pathology, Pediatrics, Medicine, and Preventive Medicine and Community Health, Rutgers New Jersey Medical School; Visiting Professor, Rutgers University School of Public Affairs and Administration

Robert A Schwartz, MD, MPH is a member of the following medical societies: Alpha Omega Alpha, New York Academy of Medicine, American Academy of Dermatology, American College of Physicians, Sigma Xi

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.


Robert Y Lin, MD Professor, Department of Medicine, New York Medical College; Chief, Allergy and Immunology, and Director of Utilization Review, Department Medicine, New York Downtown Hospital

Robert Y Lin, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology, New York Allergy & Asthma Society

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Specialty Editor Board

Mary L Windle, PharmD Adjunct Associate Professor, University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Pharmacy; Editor-in-Chief, Medscape Drug Reference

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

David J Valacer, MD 

David J Valacer, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Thoracic Society, New York Academy of Sciences

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Chief Editor

Harumi Jyonouchi, MD Faculty, Division of Allergy/Immunology and Infectious Diseases, Department of Pediatrics, Saint Peter's University Hospital

Harumi Jyonouchi, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Association of Immunologists, American Medical Association, Clinical Immunology Society, New York Academy of Sciences, Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine, Society for Pediatric Research, Society for Mucosal Immunology

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Additional Contributors

Terry W Chin, MD, PhD Associate Clinical Professor, Department of Pediatrics, University of California, Irvine, School of Medicine; Associate Director, Cystic Fibrosis Center, Attending Staff Physician, Department of Pediatric Pulmonology, Allergy, and Immunology, Memorial Miller Children's Hospital

Terry W Chin, MD, PhD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology, American Association of Immunologists, American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, American College of Chest Physicians, American Federation for Clinical Research, American Thoracic Society, California Society of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, California Thoracic Society, Clinical Immunology Society, Los Angeles Pediatric Society, Western Society for Pediatric Research

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.


The authors and editors of Medscape Reference gratefully acknowledge the contributions of previous author Ann O'Neill Shigeoka, MD to the development and writing of this article.

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A unique dermatitis characterizes Omenn syndrome. The dermatitis initially resembles eczema, but with a pachydermia, as observed here. The lesions progress to desquamation. Failure to thrive is evident. This infant weighed 6 pounds at age 6 months; his weight had not changed since birth.
Common viral infections are fatal in severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID). This female infant died before bone marrow stem cell engraftment could occur, when varicella became resistant to acyclovir. The nasal bridge reveals superinfection with Klebsiella pneumoniae. Lymphedema, a characteristic of Omenn syndrome, is also shown.
Table. Immune Globulin, Intravenous [20, 21, 19, 22]
Brand(Manufacturer) Manufacturing Process pH Additives (IVIG products containing sucrose are more often associated with renal dysfunction, acute renal failure, and osmotic nephrosis, particularly with preexisting risk factors [eg, history of renal insufficiency, diabetes mellitus, age >65 y, dehydration, sepsis, paraproteinemia, nephrotoxic drugs].) Parenteral Form and Final Concentrations IgA Content (mcg/mL)
Carimune NF

(CSL Behring)

Kistler-Nitschmann fractionation; pH 4 incubation, nanofiltration 6.4-6.8 6% solution: 10% sucrose, < 20 mg NaCl/g protein Lyophilized powder 3%, 6%, 9%, 12% Trace

(Grifols USA)

Cohn-Oncley fractionation, PEG precipitation, ion-exchange chromatography, pasteurization 5.1-6 Sucrose free, contains 5% D-sorbitol Liquid 5% < 50
Gammagard Liquid 10%

(Baxter Bioscience)

Cohn-Oncley cold ethanol fractionation, cation and anion exchange chromatography, solvent detergent treated, nanofiltration, low pH incubation 4.6-5.1 0.25M glycine Ready-for-use Liquid 10% 37

(Talecris Biotherapeutics)

Cohn-Oncley fractionation, caprylate-chromatography purification, cloth and depth filtration, low pH incubation 4-4.5 Contains no sugar, contains glycine Liquid 10% 46

(Bio Products)

Solvent/detergent treatment targeted to enveloped viruses; virus filtration using Pall Ultipor to remove small viruses including nonenveloped viruses; low pH incubation 4.8-5.1 Contains sorbitol (40 mg/mL); do not administer if fructose intolerant Ready-for-use solution 5% < 10
Iveegam EN

(Baxter Bioscience)

Cohn-Oncley fraction II/III; ultrafiltration; pasteurization 6.4-7.2 5% solution: 5% glucose, 0.3% NaCl Lyophilized powder 5% < 10
Polygam S/D

Gammagard S/D

(Baxter Bioscience for the American Red Cross)

Cohn-Oncley cold ethanol fractionation, followed by ultracentrafiltration and ion exchange chromatography; solvent detergent treated 6.4-7.2 5% solution: 0.3% albumin, 2.25% glycine, 2% glucose Lyophilized powder 5%, 10% < 1.6 (5% solution)

(Octapharma USA)

9/24/10: Withdrawn from market because of unexplained reports of thromboembolic events

Cohn-Oncley fraction II/III; ultrafiltration; low pH incubation; S/D treatment pasteurization 5.1-6 10% maltose Liquid 5% 200

(Swiss Red Cross for the American Red Cross)

Kistler-Nitschmann fractionation; pH 4, trace pepsin, nanofiltration 6.6 Per gram of IgG: 1.67 g sucrose, < 20 mg NaCl Lyophilized powder 3%, 6%, 9%, 12% 720
Privigen Liquid 10%

(CSL Behring)

Cold ethanol fractionation, octanoic acid fractionation, and anion exchange chromatography; pH 4 incubation and depth filtration 4.6-5 L-proline (approximately 250 mmol/L) as stabilizer; trace sodium; does not contain carbohydrate stabilizers (eg, sucrose, maltose) Ready-for use liquid 10% < 25
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