T-lymphocyte dysfunctions occurring together with apical gut epithelial cell autoantibodies

Gastroenterology. 1991 Aug;101(2):390-7. doi: 10.1016/0016-5085(91)90016-e.


Gut epithelial cell autoantibodies have been considered a hallmark of autoimmune enteropathy, a disorder occurring in children with protracted diarrhea of unknown etiology. Four patients (two male and two female) with such autoantibodies were studied. Immunofluorescence analysis showed two different disjunctive staining patterns: complement-fixing apical (three of four) and cytoplasmic (the remaining fourth one), which are shown to be directed against different structures. All three patients positive for complement-fixing apical gut epithelial cell autoantibodies had abnormal T-cell responses in vitro, one of them with an immunoglobulin G2 immunoglobulin deficiency and another with an immunoglobulin A deficiency. An immunoglobulin A deficiency without T-cell alterations was also diagnosed in the cytoplasmic gut epithelial cell autoantibody-positive patient. These findings suggest that different immunologic alterations (either a T-cell abnormality or immunoglobulin deficiency) may favor the appearance of gut epithelial cell autoantibodies (complement-fixing apical or cytoplasmic, respectively). Furthermore, these autoantibodies should not be considered a specific marker of autoimmune enteropathy, because they may not always be associated with such a disease: two patients with apical gut epithelial cell autoantibodies showed no signs of intestinal lesion or diarrhea.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Autoantibodies / analysis*
  • Autoimmune Diseases / immunology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Complement Fixation Tests
  • Dysgammaglobulinemia / immunology
  • Epithelial Cells
  • Epithelium / immunology
  • Female
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Humans
  • IgA Deficiency
  • IgG Deficiency
  • Intestinal Diseases / immunology
  • Intestines / immunology*
  • Male
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes / physiology*


  • Autoantibodies