Pediatric and adult eosinophilic esophagitis: similarities and differences

Allergy. 2012 Apr;67(4):477-90. doi: 10.1111/j.1398-9995.2012.02787.x. Epub 2012 Feb 8.


Early in the 1990s, several case series described adults suffering from dysphagia and children with refractory reflux symptoms, both accompanied by an eosinophil-predominant infiltration, thereby conclusively distinguishing it from gastroesophageal reflux disease. Eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE) was recognized as its own entity in the adult and in the pediatric literature. In the last decade, evidence has accumulated that EoE represents a T-helper (Th)2-type inflammatory disease. Remodeling of the esophagus is a hallmark of EoE, leading to esophageal dysfunction and bolus impaction. Familial occurrence and disease association with single-nucleotide polymorphisms underscore the influence of genetics in this disease. Eosinophilic esophagitis may affect individuals at any age, although the clinical presentation is highly age dependent. There is a significant allergic bias in the EoE population, with the majority of patients having concurrent allergic rhinitis, asthma, eczema, and/or a history of atopy. One noteworthy difference is that in children, EoE seems to be primarily a food antigen-driven disease, whereas in adults, mainly aeroallergen sensitization has been observed. Treatment modalities for EoE include the 3Ds: drugs, diet, and dilation. The crucial question of whether adult and pediatric EoE are different phenotypes of one single entity or whether we are confronted with two different diseases is still open. Here, we review similarities and differences between EoE in adults and children.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Eosinophilic Esophagitis / diagnosis*
  • Eosinophilic Esophagitis / immunology*
  • Humans