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Transplant Proc. 2005 Jun;37(5):2270-1.

Long-term parenteral nutrition in pediatric autoimmune enteropathies.

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Gastroenterology and Nutrition Unit, Bambino Gesu Children Hospital, Piazza S. Onofrio 4, Rome RM 00174, Italy.


Severe and protracted or persistent diarrhea (SPD) is the most severe form of diarrhea in infancy and has also been defined as intractable diarrhea when it leads to dependence on total parenteral nutrition (TPN). One of the rare causes of SPD is represented by autoimmune enteropathy that is characterized by life-threatening diarrhea mainly occurring within the first years of life, persistent villous atrophy in consecutive biopsies, resistance to bowel rest, and evidence of antigut autoantibodies. We evaluated 10 patients (seven boys, mean age at diagnosis 18 months; range: 0 to 160 months) fulfilling criteria of autoimmune enteropathy to assess dependence on TPN. TPN was first required in all patients to avoid dehydration and electrolytic imbalance. All patients were dependent on immunosuppressive therapy (steroid, azothioprine, cyclosporine, tacrolimus). Three patients died of sepsis: two during TPN while in the hospital, and one at home after he was weaned off TPN. Five patients are weaned off TPN after a mean period of 18 months; they are actually on oral alimentation with a cow milk-free diet after a period of enteral nutrition with elemental formula. One underwent total colectomy and bone marrow transplantation and one developed an IPEX syndrome. One patient is still dependent on TPN for 24 months. She is on home parenteral nutrition. Patients with diagnosis of IPEX syndrome require parenteral support with three or four infusion per week. TPN represents a fixed step in the management of autoimmune enteropathy, but it may be considered as an interim treatment while waiting for intestinal adaptation, at least in some selectioned case of autoimmune enteropathy. Bone marrow transplantation should be considered and reserved for those patients with severe complications due to home parenteral nutrition, or in those that are really dependent on parenteral nutrition.

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