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Histopathology. 2000 Jun;36(6):556-9.

What is the significance of muciphages in colorectal biopsies? The significance of muciphages in otherwise normal colorectal biopsies.

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Department of Cellular Pathology, Northwick Park and St. Mark's Hospitals, Harrow, Middlesex, UK.


Muciphages (mucin-containing macrophages), first described in 1966 by Azzopardi & Evans, are a common feature of biopsies of large intestinal mucosa, even in the absence of other abnormalities such as active inflammation or evidence of chronic inflammatory bowel disease. Should they be mentioned in diagnostic reports? Do muciphages reliably indicate previous mucosal disease, now quiescent? In the following articles, Salto-Tellez & Price review what is known about muciphages and conclude that they reflect previous occult and clinically unimportant mucosal damage and that, in an otherwise normal colorectal mucosa, they have no diagnostic significance; and Shepherd draws attention to a wide range of clinically much more significant mucosal infiltrates that could be mistakenly regarded as muciphages and thus overlooked.

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