The clinical significance of duodenal lymphocytosis with normal villus architecture

Arch Pathol Lab Med. 2013 Sep;137(9):1216-9. doi: 10.5858/arpa.2013-0261-RA.


Context: The finding of increased intraepithelial lymphocytes with normal villous architecture (Marsh I lesion) is seen in up to 3% of duodenal biopsies. The differential diagnosis includes a wide range of possibilities, including celiac disease, bacterial overgrowth, nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drug damage, reaction to Helicobacter pylori infection, tropical sprue, and chronic inflammatory bowel disease.

Objectives: To highlight the histologic features of the Marsh I lesion, review the diseases and conditions associated with that finding, and to provide pathologists with a rationale and a template for how to identify and report such cases.

Data sources: A review of the literature regarding the histologic features and clinical associations of Marsh I lesions.

Conclusions: Marsh I lesions are a nonspecific finding associated with a number of disease conditions. Historically, between 9% and 40% of cases have been shown to represent celiac disease. Current data do not suggest histologic features to differentiate between diseases associated with this histologic change.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biopsy
  • Celiac Disease / pathology*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Duodenum / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Mucosa / pathology*
  • Lymphocytosis / pathology*