Protein-losing enteropathy: case illustrations and clinical review

Am J Gastroenterol. 2010 Jan;105(1):43-9; quiz 50. doi: 10.1038/ajg.2009.561. Epub 2009 Sep 29.


Protein-losing enteropathy (PLE) is a rare syndrome of gastrointestinal protein loss that may complicate a variety of diseases. The primary causes can be divided into erosive gastrointestinal disorders, nonerosive gastrointestinal disorders, and disorders involving increased central venous pressure or mesenteric lymphatic obstruction. The diagnosis of PLE should be considered in patients with hypoproteinemia after other causes, such as malnutrition, proteinuria, and impaired protein synthesis due to cirrhosis, have been excluded. The diagnosis of PLE is most commonly based on the determination of fecal alpha-1 antitrypsin clearance. Treatment of PLE targets the underlying disease but also includes dietary modification, supportive care, and maintenance of nutritional status. In this article, cases illustrating a variety of clinical presentations and etiologies of PLE are presented, and its diagnostic approach and treatment are reviewed.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Comorbidity
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Feces / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutrition Therapy
  • Protein-Losing Enteropathies* / diagnosis
  • Protein-Losing Enteropathies* / etiology
  • Protein-Losing Enteropathies* / therapy
  • alpha 1-Antitrypsin


  • alpha 1-Antitrypsin