Omenn Syndrome Treatment & Management

Updated: Apr 28, 2021
  • Author: Robert A Schwartz, MD, MPH; Chief Editor: Harumi Jyonouchi, MD  more...
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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). Thus, gene therapy (GT) might represent a good alternative to stem cell transplantation, particularly in those without a matched donor. [22]



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.