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, 41 (2), 56-60

The Exocrine Pancreas in Kwashiorkor and Marasmus. Light and Electron Microscopy

  • PMID: 1523833

The Exocrine Pancreas in Kwashiorkor and Marasmus. Light and Electron Microscopy

S E Brooks et al. West Indian Med J.


Histological sections of pancreas and liver from 65 cases of children dying from childhood malnutrition were reviewed. The extent of pancreatic atrophy and fibrosis was compared with fatty change in the liver. Pancreatic atrophy was common, and often associated with severe fatty change in the liver, but also occurred in marasmic children with scanty liver fat. Pancreatic fibrosis, when present, was only of mild degree. Among 16 patients with marasmus, fibrosis was only seen in one pancreas. Fibrosis was recorded in 8/25 cases of kwashiorkor, and in 7/24 cases diagnosed as marasmic-kwashiorkor. Electron microscopy of the pancreas was performed in seven cases, using tissue collected at immediate autopsy. Atrophy and variable amounts of degranulation of acinar cells were seen. There was often disorganization of the endoplasmic reticulum with intracisternal sequestration. Mitochondrial swelling was consistent with terminal anoxia. Centro-acinar cells were prominent. Some acini were dilated and contained fibrillar material. These findings support the pioneer paper by Blackburn and Vinijchaikul (1969) and underline the importance of pancreatic atrophy in the pathology of protein-energy malnutrition.

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