Environmental enteropathy: critical implications of a poorly understood condition

Trends Mol Med. 2012 Jun;18(6):328-36. doi: 10.1016/j.molmed.2012.04.007. Epub 2012 May 25.


Environmental enteropathy (also called tropical enteropathy) is a subclinical condition caused by constant fecal-oral contamination and resulting in blunting of intestinal villi and intestinal inflammation. Although these histological changes were discovered decades ago, the clinical impact of environmental enteropathy is just starting to be recognized. The failure of nutritional interventions and oral vaccines in the developing world may be attributed to environmental enteropathy, as the intestinal absorptive and immunologic functions are significantly deranged. Here we review the existing literature and examine potential mechanisms of pathogenesis for this poorly understood condition.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomarkers
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Environment*
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Diseases / diagnosis
  • Intestinal Diseases / epidemiology
  • Intestinal Diseases / etiology*
  • Malabsorption Syndromes / diagnosis
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology


  • Biomarkers