The grandfather’s fever

  • Paola Ricci
  • Alessandro Stella
  • Enrica Settimo
  • Francesca Passerini
  • Francesco Minerva
  • Anna Belfiore
  • Vincenzo O. Palmieri
  • Stefania Pugliese
  • Giuseppe Scaccianoce
  • Piero PortincasaEmail author
Case Based Review


An 86-year-old Caucasian man had prior episodes of fever (up to 38 °C), mild abdominal pain, tachycardia, and malaise in the last 3 months, lasting 2–3 days. He never suffered from abdominal or chest pain, rash, or arthralgia. Major causes of fever were excluded (pulmonary, urinary, abdomen, skin infections, neoplasms, and major rheumatologic disorders). The patient was native of Altamura with a family history of familial Mediterranean fever (FMF). The genetic testing confirmed the presence of MEFV gene variants c.442G>C (E148Q) on exon 2 and c.2282G>A (R761H) on exon 10, all in heterozygosity. Mildly elevated serum transaminases suggested an ongoing form of FMF hepatitis on nonalcoholic liver steatosis. The patient started colchicine 1 mg/day that induced symptom control and normalization of inflammatory markers, hyperbilirubinemia, and markers of cholestasis. Symptoms of FMF can appear at any age in life and our patient represents a very late-onset clinical case. The Apulian region has a consistent clustering of MEFV variants and FMF families with affected individuals in multiple consecutive generations. Families show unique clinical features and rare signs of secondary amyloidosis without kidney damage. Genetic and environmental bases of this phenotypic variant are under scrutiny. Colchicine lifetime remains the mainstay of treatment in FMF patients.

Key Points

Familial Mediterranean fever (FMF) is the most frequent hereditary monogenic recurrent fever syndrome, and symptoms can appear at any age in life.

Late-onset FMF approaches 30% in late adulthood, but in general, onset of FMF after the age of 40 (late onset FMF) is rare, usually associated with M694V heterozygosity.

In a local cluster of FMF families (Altamura, Puglia, Southern Italy), we report a very late-onset FMF (variants E148Q, R761H) in an 86-year-old patient with a positive family history of FMF in two generations of descendants.

While lifetime colchicine remains the mainstay of treatment in FMF patients, prospective studies need to identify the characteristics of several phenotypic variants accounting for (very)-late onset FMF.


Autoinflammatory diseases FMF Genetics Geriatrics Periodic fever 



We are indebted to Rosanna Bagnulo, Paola De Benedictis, and Rosa De Venuto for skillful technical assistance. We also thank Dr. Paolo Buonamico for clinical management, Prof. Eldad Ben-Chetrit for helpful scientific discussion, and Paolo Calveri, president of Italian Association of Periodic Fevers (AIFP). This work was partly supported from FARB-MIUR grant to AS.

Authors’ contributions

PR, AS, ES, FP, FM, AB, VOP, SP, and GS contributed to the clinical, instrumental, and biohumoral workup of the patient. PP wrote the first draft and revised the final version. AS was responsible for the genetic analysis. All authors approved the final version of the manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards



Ethics approval

Our institutions do not require ethical approval for reporting individual cases or case series.

Informed consent

Written informed consent was obtained from the patient for his anonymized information to be published in this article.


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Copyright information

© International League of Associations for Rheumatology (ILAR) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paola Ricci
    • 1
  • Alessandro Stella
    • 2
  • Enrica Settimo
    • 1
  • Francesca Passerini
    • 1
  • Francesco Minerva
    • 1
  • Anna Belfiore
    • 1
  • Vincenzo O. Palmieri
    • 1
  • Stefania Pugliese
    • 1
  • Giuseppe Scaccianoce
    • 3
  • Piero Portincasa
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Division of Internal Medicine, Clinica Medica “Augusto Murri”, Department of Biomedical Sciences and Human OncologyUniversity of Bari Medical SchoolBariItaly
  2. 2.Section of Medical Genetics, Department of Biomedical Sciences and Human OncologyUniversity of Bari Medical SchoolBariItaly
  3. 3.Gastrointestinal Endoscopy“Umberto I” HospitalBariItaly

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