Microscopic colitis with giant cells: a clinico-pathological review of 11 cases and comparison with microscopic colitis without giant cells

Pathology. 2008 Dec;40(7):671-5. doi: 10.1080/00313020802436394.


Aim: To document clinical and pathological features of microscopic colitis with giant cells (MCGC) which is one of a number of atypical variants of microscopic colitis.

Methods: Cases of microscopic colitis were assessed for giant cells during routine reporting and retrieved from the slide file at a private laboratory. The histological features and clinical data were assessed. Histochemistry (trichome and haematoxylin van Gieson) and immunohistochemistry (CD68) was performed to characterise the nature of the giant cells.

Results: Giant cells were identified in 11 cases of microscopic colitis. The histological features of MCGC are not significantly different from usual MC except for the presence of multinucleated giant cells in the superficial lamina propria. Apart from the common but not unexpected association with autoimmune disease, no unique clinical features of the MCGC group were identified versus those described in the literature for ordinary MC. Immune disorders included gluten-sensitive enteropathy, systemic lupus erythematosus and raised titres of antinuclear antibodies.

Conclusions: The giant cells have the same immunohistochemical characteristics as histiocytes and appear to form through histiocyte fusion. The presence of giant cells does not appear to confer any further clinical significance and remains a histological curiosity.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antigens, CD / metabolism
  • Antigens, Differentiation, Myelomonocytic / metabolism
  • Colitis, Microscopic / metabolism
  • Colitis, Microscopic / pathology*
  • Female
  • Giant Cells / metabolism
  • Giant Cells / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Middle Aged


  • Antigens, CD
  • Antigens, Differentiation, Myelomonocytic
  • CD68 antigen, human