Pathogenesis of small-intestinal mucosal lesions in chronic diarrhea of infancy: I. A light microscopic study

J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 1990 Nov;11(4):455-63. doi: 10.1097/00005176-199011000-00005.


In an effort to increase our understanding of the pathogenesis of chronic protracted diarrhea in infants, we examined 44 jejunal mucosal specimens. Only 3 of the 44 specimens showed a normal mucosa (grade 1). Partial villous atrophy was seen in 17 mucosal specimens (grade 2) with marked patchiness in all of the specimens. Subtotal or total villous atrophy (grade 3) was found in the remaining 24 mucosal biopsies. Plasma cells and macrophages were variably increased and intraepithelial lymphocytes were moderately increased in grades 2 and 3. Eight of ten mucosal biopsy specimens embedded in plastic material and cut at 1-2-mm thickness, showed bacteria of unidentified nature, situated either above the microvillous layer or on the mucosal surface. Both adherent and nonadherent bacteria could be identified in the same specimen. We concluded that severe pathological mucosal changes are common in young infants with protracted diarrhea and that the presence of bacteria may be more common than has previously been documented.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Atrophy
  • Biopsy
  • Chronic Disease
  • Diarrhea, Infantile / pathology*
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / pathology
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Intestinal Mucosa / pathology*
  • Jejunum / pathology*
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence