Send to

Choose Destination
J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2000;30 Suppl:S61-6.

Food-induced malabsorption syndromes.

Author information

Hospital for Children and Adolescents, University of Helsinki, Finland.


A syndrome of chronic diarrhea, vomiting, and failure to thrive was described 35 years ago. The syndrome was caused by damage in the jejunum after ingestion of cow's milk. Symptoms appeared in young infants shortly after introduction of cow's milk formula. Patients had moderate steatorrhea, decreased absorption of D-xylose, and, often, iron-deficiency anemia and hypoproteinemia. They had strong IgA and IgG antibodies to cow's milk. IgE antibodies to cow's milk were negative, as a rule. Indicators of cell-mediated immune reaction to cow's milk proteins were often positive. Patients were tolerant to cow's milk by the age of 3 years. Malabsorption was due to damage to the jejunal mucosa: Varying villus atrophy was associated with inflammation in surface epithelium and lamina propria. The epithelial cell renewal rate increased. Surface epithelial cells decreased in height, with short, furry microvilli and large aggregates of lysozymes. The number of intraepithelial lymphocytes was markedly increased, but normalized during cow's milk elimination. Most of these lymphocytes had alpha/beta T-cell receptors, and many were cytotoxic. Some specimens had an increase in gamma/delta T-cell receptor-bearing cells. In the lamina propria, CD4+ cells predominated, and some of them were activated. IgA- and IgM-containing cells were markedly increased during cow's milk exposure, but IgE cells were not abnormal. The density of eosinophils was moderately increased. Secretion of interferon-gamma by cells isolated from patients' intestines was markedly increased. Morphologic and immunologic findings suggest that T-cell-mediated reaction to proteins in cow's milk is present in the small intestines of patients with this syndrome and causes this enteropathy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Wolters Kluwer
Loading ...
Support Center