Newcomers in paediatric GI pathology: childhood enteropathies including very early onset monogenic IBD

Virchows Arch. 2018 Jan;472(1):111-123. doi: 10.1007/s00428-017-2197-9. Epub 2017 Jul 17.


Childhood enteropathies are a group of diseases causing severe chronic (>2-3 weeks) diarrhoea often starting in the first week of life with the potential for fatal complications for the affected infant. Early identification and accurate classification of childhood enteropathies are, therefore, crucial for making treatment decisions to prevent life-threatening complications. Childhood enteropathies are classified into four groups based on the underlying pathology: (i) conditions related to defective digestion, absorption and transport of nutrients and electrolytes; (ii) disorders related to enterocyte differentiation and polarization; (iii) defects of enteroendocrine cell differentiation; and (iv) disorders associated with defective modulation of intestinal immune response. While the intestinal mucosa is usually normal in enteropathies related to congenital transport or enzyme deficiencies, the intestinal biopsy in other disorders may reveal a wide range of abnormalities varying from normal villous architecture to villous atrophy and/or inflammation, or features specific to the underlying disorder including epithelial abnormalities, lipid vacuolization in the enterocytes, absence of plasma cells, lymphangiectasia, microorganisms, and mucosal eosinophilic or histiocytic infiltration. This review intends to provide an update on small intestinal biopsy findings in childhood enteropathies, the "newcomers", including very early onset monogenic inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), in particular, for the practicing pathologist.

Keywords: Children; Enteropathy; Histopathology; Inflammatory bowel disease.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Age of Onset
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / congenital*
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / pathology*
  • Intestinal Diseases / congenital
  • Intestinal Diseases / pathology