Adult onset autoimmune enteropathy (AIE) is a rare condition characterized by diarrhea refractory to dietary therapy diagnosed in patients with evidence of autoimmune conditions. Auto-antibodies to gut epithelial cells and other tissues are commonly demonstrated. Despite increasing awareness, the pathogenesis, histologic, immunologic and clinical features of AIE remain uncertain. There remains controversy regarding the diagnostic criteria, the frequency and types of auto-antibodies and associated autoimmune conditions, and the extent and types of histologic and immunologic abnormalities. CD4+ T-cells are thought to at least responsible for this condition; whether other cell types, including B- and other T-cell subsets are involved, are uncertain. We present a unique case of AIE associated with a CD8+CD7- lymphocytosis and review the literature to characterize the histologic and immunologic abnormalities, and the autoantibodies and autoimmune conditions associated with AIE.

Case Presentation

We present a case of immune mediated enteropathy distinguished by the CD8+CD7- intra-epithelial and lamina propria lymphocytosis. Twenty-nine cases of AIE have been reported. The majority of patients had auto-antibodies (typically anti-enterocyte), preferential small bowel involvement, and predominately CD3+ CD4+ infiltrates. Common therapies included steroids or immuno-suppressive agents and clinical response with associated with histologic improvement.


AIE is most often characterized (1) IgG subclass anti-epithelial cell antibodies, (2) preferential small bowel involvement, and (3) CD3+ alphabeta TCR+ infiltrates; there is insufficient evidence to conclude CD4+ T-cells are solely responsible in all cases of AIE.

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Notes/Citation Information

Published in BMC Gastroenterology, v. 11, 131, p. 1-10.

© 2011 Bishu et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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