High proportion of granzyme B-positive (activated) intraepithelial and lamina propria lymphocytes in lymphocytic gastritis

Am J Surg Pathol. 1998 Apr;22(4):450-8. doi: 10.1097/00000478-199804000-00010.


Intraepithelial lymphocytes (IELs) and lamina propria lymphocytes (LpLs) have not been well studied in gastric mucosa, particularly in lymphocytic gastritis. Therefore, they were immunohistologically characterized with antibodies recognizing CD3, CD8, CD57, T cell-restricted intracellular antigen (TIA-1), and granzyme B (GrB). The TIA-1 labels cytotoxic granules of resting and activated T-cells, whereas GrB decorates activated cytotoxic T cells. Thirty patients with celiac disease, including 20 taking gluten and 10 on a gluten-free diet, 15 patients with nonceliac disease-associated lymphocytic gastritis, and 20 controls were studied. Stained cells were counted and results were given as IELs/100 epithelial cells or percentage of lamina propria cells. Sixty percent to 90% of CD3+ IELs and up to 12% of lamina propria cells contained TIA-1-positive cytotoxic granules. The number of GrB+ IELs and LpLs was increased in Helicobacter pylori-positive controls (p < 0.03 vs. H pylori-negative controls) and celiac disease patients taking gluten (p < 0.05 vs. controls). The highest number of GrB+ IELs and LpLs was found in nonceliac disease-associated lymphocytic gastritis (p < 0.009 vs. controls, p < 0.05 vs. celiac disease). This study shows that a high proportion of gastric IELs and LpLs is potentially cytotoxic in nature. Through stimuli not yet identified, a proportion of them becomes activated after H pylori infestation and in lymphocytic gastritis.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Celiac Disease / enzymology
  • Celiac Disease / immunology
  • Celiac Disease / pathology
  • Endoscopy
  • Female
  • Gastric Mucosa / enzymology
  • Gastric Mucosa / immunology*
  • Gastric Mucosa / pathology
  • Gastritis / enzymology
  • Gastritis / immunology*
  • Gastritis / pathology
  • Granzymes
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Lymphocytes / enzymology
  • Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Lymphocytes / pathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Serine Endopeptidases / metabolism*


  • GZMB protein, human
  • Granzymes
  • Serine Endopeptidases