Pathogenesis of small-intestinal mucosal lesions in chronic diarrhea of infancy: II. An electron microscopic study

J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 1990 Nov;11(4):464-80. doi: 10.1097/00005176-199011000-00006.


Our electron microscopic study of biopsies taken from 10 infants with protracted diarrhea was conducted in an effort to determine the pathogenesis of the disorder. In this article, the ultrastructure of the jejunal mucosa of the infants is described in relation to overlying or adherent bacteria of unidentified type. In addition to the known changes on the enterocyte surface caused by adherent bacteria (cupping and effacement), other cytopathic changes, not previously reported, are documented. Included are widespread loss of enterocytes, including intraepithelial lymphocytes, into the bowel lumen; cytopathological changes within the enterocytes; and marked thickening of the basal laminae of the enterocytes and the endothelium of lamina propria blood vessels. In addition, we noted deposition of collagen fibrils in the lamina propria below the basal laminae, active phagolysis within macrophages, and lack of cisternal material (immunoglobulin) in the plasma-cell cytoplasm. Although these changes are nonspecific, they may be related in part to the presence of the nonadhering and adhering bacteria, and their identification may further our understanding of the "sick mucosa" that occurs in chronic diarrhea of infancy.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / cytology*
  • Bacterial Adhesion
  • Biopsy
  • Chronic Disease
  • Diarrhea, Infantile / microbiology*
  • Diarrhea, Infantile / pathology
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Intestinal Mucosa / microbiology*
  • Intestinal Mucosa / pathology
  • Intestinal Mucosa / ultrastructure
  • Jejunum / microbiology*
  • Jejunum / pathology
  • Jejunum / ultrastructure
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Microvilli / microbiology
  • Microvilli / ultrastructure