Lymphocytic duodenitis or microscopic enteritis and gluten‑related conditions: what needs to be explored?

Authors Enzo Ierardi, Giuseppe Losurdo, Andrea Iannone, Domenico Piscitelli, Annacinzia Amoruso, Michele Barone, Mariabeatrice Principi, Antonio Pisani, Alfredo Di Leo.


Microscopic enteritis (ME) is characterized by abnormal infiltration of intraepithelial lymphocytes in intestinal mucosa. It was described as duodenal lymphocytosis or lymphocytic duodenitis until the dedicated Consensus Conference of 2015. ME represents a common feature of several gluten-mediated and non-gluten related diseases; therefore, it is an umbrella term embracing several conditions. The most frequent causes of ME are gluten-related disorders (celiac disease, non-celiac gluten sensitivity, wheat allergy), Helicobacter pylori infection and drug-related damages. Less frequently, ME may be secondary to inflammatory bowel disease, some autoimmune conditions, immunoglobulin deficiencies, blood malignancies, infections and irritable bowel syndrome. Therefore, the differential diagnosis of ME may be challenging. The diagnosis of ME needs to be driven by predominant symptoms and patient history. However, it is often difficult to achieve an immediate identification of the underlying condition, and a broad variety of diagnostic tests may be required. Ultimately, long-term surveillance is needed for a final diagnosis in many cases, since a hidden or quiescent condition may be disclosed after a period of latency. In any case, strict collaboration between the clinician and the pathologist is pivotal. The treatment of ME should be personalized, depending on the underlying disease. For gluten-related conditions (celiac disease, gluten sensitivity, wheat allergy, dermatitis herpetiformis), a gluten-free diet may be proposed. For other conditions, a targeted etiologic treatment is necessary. In conclusion, ME represents a novel entity that is attracting increasing interest. The growing epidemiologic trend confirms that it will become a common condition in clinical practice.

Keywords Microscopic enteritis, duodenal lymphocytosis, celiac disease, gluten sensitivity, gluten-free diet, intraepithelial lymphocytes

Ann Gastroenterol 2017; 30 (4): 380-392

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