The pathology of malabsorption: current concepts

Histopathology. 2007 Jan;50(1):64-82. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2559.2006.02547.x.


Intestinal malabsorption results from a wide variety of causes, which can most easily be organized into three groups. Maldigestion arises from problems with mixing or with digestive mediators, and includes post-gastrectomy patients and those with deficiencies of pancreatic or intestinal enzymes, or of bile salts. Mucosal and mural causes of malabsorption are abundant, and include gluten-sensitive enteropathy, tropical sprue, autoimmune enteropathy, and HIV/AIDS-related enteropathy, as well as mural conditions such as systemic sclerosis. Finally, microbial causes of malabsorption include bacterial overgrowth, Whipple's disease, and numerous infections or infestations that are most frequently seen in immunocompromised patients. An overview of the most common and interesting entities in each of these categories follows, along with a discussion of current concepts. Mucosal conditions and microbial causes of malabsorption are given special attention.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Intestinal Absorption*
  • Intestinal Mucosa / metabolism
  • Intestinal Mucosa / pathology*
  • Intestinal Mucosa / physiopathology
  • Malabsorption Syndromes / etiology
  • Malabsorption Syndromes / pathology*