Eosinophilic esophagitis in children: immunopathological analysis and response to fluticasone propionate

Gastroenterology. 2002 May;122(5):1216-25. doi: 10.1053/gast.2002.32998.


Background & aims: Eosinophilic esophagitis (EE) shares symptoms with gastroesophageal reflux disease but has distinctive pathologic features and unknown immunopathology. Treatments with antigen restriction or systemic immunosuppression pose problems with compliance and side effects. Topically applied steroids offer an attractive alternative treatment. The aims of this study were to determine the immunopathologic features of EE and the effectiveness of antigen-specific diet restriction (DR) and topical immunosuppression.

Methods: A prospective trial was conducted examining the impact of DR and swallowed fluticasone propionate (FP) on pediatric patients with EE. Clinicopathologic features, including immunohistochemical analysis of the esophageal mucosa, were measured before and after treatment.

Results: Immunohistochemical analysis of 11 prospectively identified children showed a significantly greater number of mucosal CD3 and CD8 lymphocytes, as well as CD1a antigen-presenting cells compared with normal controls. DR did not induce clinical improvement in any patients, whereas all children who completed treatment with FP had resolution of symptoms. Posttreatment analysis of proximal and distal esophageal mucosa showed a significant reduction in the number of eosinophils, as well as CD3(+) and CD8(+) lymphocytes compared with pretreatment sections.

Conclusions: EE is characterized by immunologically active esophageal mucosa. FP, not DR, effectively relieves symptoms. FP significantly reduces mucosal inflammation associated with EE.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Androstadienes / therapeutic use*
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Antigens, CD1 / analysis
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diet
  • Eosinophilia / drug therapy
  • Eosinophilia / immunology*
  • Eosinophilia / pathology
  • Esophagitis / drug therapy
  • Esophagitis / immunology*
  • Esophagitis / pathology
  • Female
  • Fluticasone
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology


  • Androstadienes
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Antigens, CD1
  • CD1a antigen
  • Fluticasone