Liver Pathology, Including MOC31 Immunohistochemistry, in Congenital Tufting Enteropathy

Am J Surg Pathol. 2021 Aug 1;45(8):1091-1097. doi: 10.1097/PAS.0000000000001710.


Congenital tufting enteropathy (CTE) is a rare heritable cause of intractable diarrhea due to EPCAM mutation. Pathologic findings include intestinal villous atrophy, tufted discohesive tear-drop-shaped epithelium, and a normal brush border. In affected patients, absent intestinal epithelial cell adhesion molecule (EpCAM) expression results in loss of MOC31 immunostaining. CTE liver pathology has not yet been described. We identified CTE patients with liver biopsies and reviewed clinicopathologic material including MOC31 immunohistochemistry. Three CTE patients had 4 liver core biopsies (at ages 1, 5, 7, and 16 y), 2 for preintestinal transplant evaluation, and 2 (from a single patient) for pretreatment assessment of chronic hepatitis C; all had received parenteral nutrition (PN). All samples showed loss of biliary epithelial polarization and mild portal and lobular inflammation. Only the hepatitis C patient demonstrated fibrosis. One patient each had lobular neutrophilic microabscesses and macrovesicular steatosis. Proliferative ductular reactions were absent in CTE patients but present in all controls on PN for other reasons. MOC31 was absent in biliary epithelium and hepatocytes of all CTE patients; controls showed consistent strong membranous biliary epithelial and patchy membranous periportal hepatocyte staining. Our data show that, histologically, hepatopathy in CTE can be difficult to separate from comorbid disease including PN effect; however, the absent ductular reaction may be characteristic. MOC31 localization in the biliary epithelium and zone 1 hepatocytes of controls suggests these compartments of the liver might be most susceptible to effects of EpCAM deficiency. In addition, we validate the liver as suitable tissue for CTE diagnosis using MOC31 immunohistochemistry.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diarrhea, Infantile / complications*
  • Diarrhea, Infantile / genetics
  • Epithelial Cell Adhesion Molecule / genetics
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Infant
  • Liver / pathology
  • Liver Diseases / etiology*
  • Liver Diseases / pathology*
  • Malabsorption Syndromes / complications*
  • Malabsorption Syndromes / genetics
  • Male


  • EPCAM protein, human
  • Epithelial Cell Adhesion Molecule

Supplementary concepts

  • Diarrhea 5, With Tufting Enteropathy, Congenital