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Intestinal epithelial dysplasia (tufting enteropathy)

Olivier Goulet1*, Julie Salomon1, Frank Ruemmele1, Natacha Patey-Mariaud de Serres2 and Nicole Brousse2

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Pediatric Gastroenterology-Hepatology and Nutrition and Reference Center for Rare Digestive Disease, Hopital Necker-Enfants Malades, 149, Rue de Sèvres, Cédex 15, 75743 Paris, France

2 Department of Pathology, Hopital Necker-Enfants Malades, 149, Rue de Sèvres, Cédex 15, 75743 Paris, France

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Orphanet Journal of Rare Diseases 2007, 2:20  doi:10.1186/1750-1172-2-20

Published: 20 April 2007


Intestinal epithelial dysplasia (IED), also known as tufting enteropathy, is a congenital enteropathy presenting with early-onset severe intractable diarrhea causing sometimes irreversible intestinal failure. To date, no epidemiological data are available, however, the prevalence can be estimated at around 1/50,000–100,000 live births in Western Europe. The prevalence seems higher in areas with high degree of consanguinity and in patients of Arabic origin. Infants develop within the first days after birth a watery diarrhea persistent in spite of bowel rest and parenteral nutrition. Some infants are reported to have associated choanal rectal or esophageal atresia. IED is thought to be related to abnormal enterocytes development and/or differentiation. Nonspecific punctuated keratitis was reported in more than 60% of patients. Histology shows various degree of villous atrophy, with low or without mononuclear cell infiltration of the lamina propria but specific histological abnormalities involving the epithelium with disorganization of surface enterocytes with focal crowding, resembling tufts. Several associated specific features were reported, including abnormal deposition of laminin and heparan sulfate proteoglycan (HSPG) in the basement membrane, increased expression of desmoglein and ultrastructural changes in the desmosomes, and abnormal distribution of α2β1 integrin adhesion molecules. One model of transgenic mice in which the gene encoding the transcription factor Elf3 is disrupted have morphologic features resembling IED. Parental consanguinity and/or affected siblings suggest an autosomal recessive transmission but the causative gene(s) have not been yet identified making prenatal diagnosis unavailable. Some infants have a milder phenotype than others but in most patients, the severity of the intestinal malabsorption even with enteral feeding make them totally dependent on daily long-term parenteral nutrition with a subsequent risk of complications. IED becomes an indication for intestinal transplantation, while timing of referral for it is crucial before the onset of severe complications.