Autoimmune enteropathy and nephropathy with circulating anti-epithelial cell antibodies

J Pediatr. 1991 Jun;118(6):858-64. doi: 10.1016/s0022-3476(05)82195-x.


We describe a child with circulating anti-epithelial cell antibodies, autoimmune enteropathy with intestinal villous atrophy, and membranous glomerulonephritis. The patient had persistent diarrhea at 6 months of age, and a small bowel biopsy showed active enteritis, villous atrophy, and crypt hyperplasia. When the patient was, 10 months of age, nephrotic syndrome developed because of membranous glomerulonephritis. Results of tests for circulating immune complexes were negative. Indirect immunofluorescence studies revealed a circulating antibody directed against renal epithelial cells. Circulating antibodies directed against normal small intestine epithelial cells were also detected by the immunoperoxidase technique. Western blot and immunoprecipitation identified a 55-kd antigen, in both small bowel and kidney, that reacted with an antibody in the patient's serum. High-dose prednisone therapy induced a clinical remission, resolution of the small bowel injury, and diminished serum anti-epithelial cell antibodies; after dose reduction, clinical relapse occurred with villous atrophy and reappearance of anti-epithelial cell antibodies. When the patient was 45 months of age, persistent diarrhea recurred despite intravenous administration of corticosteroids, cyclosporine, and total parenteral nutrition. Autoantibodies to a 55-kd epithelial cell protein are temporally related to the development of enteropathy and nephropathy. Study of similar patients is needed to determine the role of such antibodies in this disorder.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Atrophy
  • Autoantibodies / blood*
  • Autoimmune Diseases / blood
  • Autoimmune Diseases / drug therapy
  • Autoimmune Diseases / immunology*
  • Epithelial Cells
  • Epithelium / immunology
  • Glomerulonephritis, Membranous / blood
  • Glomerulonephritis, Membranous / drug therapy
  • Glomerulonephritis, Membranous / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulins / analysis
  • Infant
  • Intestinal Diseases / blood
  • Intestinal Diseases / drug therapy
  • Intestinal Diseases / immunology*
  • Intestine, Small / immunology
  • Intestine, Small / pathology*
  • Male
  • Prednisone / therapeutic use


  • Autoantibodies
  • Immunoglobulins
  • Prednisone