International Journal of Trichology International Journal of Trichology
 Print this page Email this page Small font sizeDefault font sizeIncrease font size
  Home | About IJT | Editorial board | Search | Ahead of print | Current Issue | Archives | Instructions | Online submission | Subscribe | Advertise | Contact us | Login   

 Table of Contents  
Year : 2012  |  Volume : 4  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 83-85  

Silvery grey hair: Clue to diagnose immunodeficiency

Department of Dermatology, STD and Leprosy, Bangalore Medical College and Research Institute, Bangalore, Karnataka, India

Date of Web Publication1-Jun-2012

Correspondence Address:
M S Sahana
Department of Dermatology, STD and Leprosy, Bangalore Medical College and Research Institute, Bangalore - 560 002, Karnataka
Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0974-7753.96910

Rights and Permissions

Silvery hair is a common presentation of rare group of autosomal recessive disorders called Silvery hair syndromes including Griscelli syndrome (GS), Chediak-Higashi syndrome, and Elejalde syndrome. GS is characterized by a silvery grey sheen to hair, large clumped melanosomes in hair shaft, partial albinism, and variable cellular immunodeficiency. We report two cases of GS with classical clinical features and confirmatory findings by microscopic skin and hair examination.

Keywords: Griscelli syndrome, immunodeficiency, silvery hair

How to cite this article:
Sahana M S, Sacchidanand S, Hiremagalore R, Asha G S. Silvery grey hair: Clue to diagnose immunodeficiency. Int J Trichol 2012;4:83-5

How to cite this URL:
Sahana M S, Sacchidanand S, Hiremagalore R, Asha G S. Silvery grey hair: Clue to diagnose immunodeficiency. Int J Trichol [serial online] 2012 [cited 2023 Jun 6];4:83-5. Available from: https://www.ijtrichology.com/text.asp?2012/4/2/83/96910

   Introduction Top

Griscelli syndrome (GS) is a rare autosomal recessive disorder characterized by pigmentary dilution of skin and hair, variable cellular and humoral immunodeficiency. [1] The condition is fatal. Recurrent episodes of fever and lymphohistiocytic infiltration of organs lead to hepatosplenomegaly, lymphadenopathy, pancytopenia, and neurological impairment. It was first described by Griscelli and Prunieras in 1978. [2] Approximately 60 cases have been reported, mostly from Turkish and Mediterranean population. [3] Only few cases have been reported from India. We report two cases of GS.

   Case Reports Top

Case 1

An 8-year-old male child born of non-consanguineous marriage was referred for evaluation of silvery grey hair all over the body from birth. His history was remarkable for recurrent respiratory infections. His developmental milestones were normal and immunized till date. On examination, vitals were normal. Child had silvery grey hair over the entire body including scalp, eyebrows, and eyelashes [Figure 1]. Systemic examination was unremarkable. On investigations, complete hemogram showed hemoglobin of 6.5 g/dl, total leukocyte of 4200/cu.mm, and platelet count of 8000 cu.mm. No prominent granules were noted in leukocytes. Liver function tests, renal function tests, and chest radiograph was normal. His hair microscopic examination revealed irregular pigment clumps in hair shaft [Figure 2]. Skin biopsy showed clumped pigment deposition in the basal epithelial layer. Bone marrow examination was normal.
Figure 1: Eight-year-old boy with silvery grey hair

Click here to view
Figure 2: Hair shaft showing irregular pigment clumps

Click here to view

Case 2

A 1-year-old female child born of non-consanguineous marriage presented with recurrent episodes of fever, abdominal distension, and vomiting since 6 months. Child had delayed milestones with growth retardation. On examination, child had pallor, vitals were normal. Cutaneous examination showed hypopigmented macule on face with silvery brown hair all over the body [Figure 3]. A complete hemogram showed hemoglobin of 8.5 g/ dl, total leukocyte of 3200/cu.mm, and platelet count of 4000 cu.mm. However, peripheral smear was normal. Liver enzymes were two-fold increased. Ultrasonography of abdomen revealed hepatosplenomegaly. Other investigations were normal. Microscopic examination of hair shaft showed unevenly distributed melanin aggregates. Child died a few weeks later due to septicemia.
Figure 3: Silvery grey hair with hypopigmented macule on the face

Click here to view

Based on the clinical, laboratory findings and presence of clumped melanosomes on microscopy of hair shaft, a diagnosis of GS was made.

   Discussion Top

GS is a rare autosomal disorder that was first described in 1978. It is characterized by partial albinism of hair and skin, variable cellular and humoral immunodeficiency, and the occurrence of accelerated phases consisting of hemophagocytosis, pancytopenia, elevation of serum triglyceride levels, hypofibrinogenemia, and hypoproteinemia. [4] Three different subgroups are now clearly delineated that share cutaneous characteristics but differ in their extracutaneous manifestations.

Type 1 GS is associated with severe neurological impairment with no immunodeficiency. It results from mutations in MYO5A, a motor molecule involved in melanosome movement as well as neurosecretory vesicles. Type 2 GS is associated with hemophagocytosis and immunodeficiency and results from mutations in Rab27a, which has been implicated in the regulation of membrane trafficking including melanosome transport and various regulated secretion events. [5] Type 3 GS manifestations are restricted to skin and hair and results from mutations in the gene that encodes melanophilin (Mlph). [6]

Dermatologic findings may be limited to hair and skin and occasionally retinal pigmentation may be seen. Other clinical manifestations include severe hypotonia that may progress to spastic quadriparesis or flaccid quadriplegia, seizures, ataxic movement, and mental retardation. [7] Microscopic examination of hair shaft reveals uneven clusters of aggregated melanin pigments, accumulated mainly in the medullary area of hair shaft. Histopathological examination of skin biopsy shows hyperpigmented oval melanocytes with poorly pigmented keratinocytes. Electron microscopic evaluation of skin specimens shows epidermal melanocytes filled with numerous stage IV melanosomes. [8]

GS must be considered as one of the conditions in the differential diagnosis of silvery grey hair syndrome. The other two conditions include Chediak Higashi and Elejalde syndrome. The difference between the three conditions has been summarized in [Table 1]. [9]
Table 1: Investigations to differentiate between Griscelli syndrome, Chediak-Higashi syndrome, and
Elejalde disease

Click here to view

The prognosis of GS is grave. Prenatal diagnosis has been accomplished by examination of hair from fetal scalp and skin biopsies performed at 20 weeks gestation. [8] Bone marrow transplantation or peripheral blood stem cell transplantation is the only curative therapy for GS and is advised as early as possible in the course of the disease. This suggests that the cells of hematopoietic origin are responsible for the fatal outcome in GS. [10]

The diagnosis of GS in our cases was based on clinical findings and hematological abnormalities with characteristic findings of hair on light microscopy. Silvery grey hair provides clue to underlying immunodeficiency and hence finding of silvery grey hair in childhood when associated with fever, pancytopenia, and systemic involvement should alert the clinician to consider GS since early diagnosis and treatment can improve prognosis.

   References Top

1.Mancini AJ, Chan LS, Paller AS. Partial albinism with immunodeficiency: Griscelli syndrome: Report of a case and review of literature. J Am Acad Dermatol 1998;38:295-300.  Back to cited text no. 1
2.Griscelli C, Prunieras M. Pigment dilution and immunodeficiency: A new syndrome. Int J Dermatol 1978;17:788-91.  Back to cited text no. 2
3.Sheela SR, Latha M, Injody SJ. Griscelli syndrome: Rab27a mutation. Indian Pediatr 2004;41:944-7.  Back to cited text no. 3
4.Manglani M, Adhvaryu K, Seth B. Griscelli syndrome - a case report. Indian Pediatr 2004:41:734-7.  Back to cited text no. 4
5.Fukuda M. Versatile role of Rab27 in membrane trafficking: focus on the Rab27 effector families. J Biochem 2005;137:9-16.  Back to cited text no. 5
6.Menasche G, Ho CH, Sanal O, Feldmann J, Tezcan I, Ersoy F, et al. Griscelli syndrome restricted to hypopigmentation results from a melanophilin defect (GS3) or a MYO5AF exon deletion (GS1). J Clin Invest 2003;112:450-6.  Back to cited text no. 6
7.Hurvitz H, Gillis R, Klaus S, Klar A, Gross-Kieselstein F, Okon E. A kindred with Griscelli disease: Spectrum of neurologic involvement. Eur J Pediatr 1993;152:402-5.  Back to cited text no. 7
8.Kumar TS, Ebenazar S, Moses PD. Griscelli syndrome. Indian J Dermatol 2006;51:269-71.  Back to cited text no. 8
  Medknow Journal  
9.Inamdar AC, Palit A. Silvery hair with bronze tan in child: A case of Elejalde disease. Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol 2007;73:417-9.  Back to cited text no. 9
10.Schneider LC, Berman RS, Shea CR, Perez-Atayde AR, Weinstein H, Geha RS. Bone marrow transplantation for the syndrome of pigmentary dilution and lymphohistiocytosis (Griscelli syndrome). J Clin Immunol 1990;10:146-53.  Back to cited text no. 10


  [Figure 1], [Figure 2], [Figure 3]

  [Table 1]

This article has been cited by
1 Griscelli Syndrome Type 1: Hair Microscopy Clinches the Diagnosis
Juhi Gupta, Pooja Sharma, Pooja Ameta, Deepak Kumar Mathur, Ashok Gupta
Indian Journal of Pediatrics. 2022;
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
2 Chediak-Higashi syndrome and premature exfoliation of primary teeth
Rezende, K.M., Canela, A.H.C., Ortega, A.O.L., Tintel, C., Bönecker, M.
Brazilian Dental Journal. 2013; 24(6): 667-670


    Similar in PUBMED
   Search Pubmed for
   Search in Google Scholar for
 Related articles
    Access Statistics
    Email Alert *
    Add to My List *
* Registration required (free)  

  In this article
   Case Reports
    Article Figures
    Article Tables

 Article Access Statistics
    PDF Downloaded120    
    Comments [Add]    
    Cited by others 2    

Recommend this journal