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Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg. 1993 Dec;87 Suppl 3:17-21.

Diarrhoeal disease: current concepts and future challenges. Pathogenesis of giardiasis.

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Department of Gastroenterology, St Bartholomew's Hospital, West Smithfield, London, UK.


Giardiasis is the most common small intestinal protozoal infection and is found worldwide. The mechanisms by which Giardia duodenalis (= G. lamblia) produces chronic diarrhoea and malabsorption have still not been clearly defined. Many infections are associated with mild to moderate mucosal damage which, in animal models of infection, have functional correlates. Possible mechanisms include direct physical injury, release of parasite products such as proteinases or lectin, and mucosal inflammation associated with T cell activation and cytokine release. Other possible mechanisms of malabsorption include associated bacterial overgrowth and bile salt deconjugation, bile salt uptake by the parasite with depletion of intraluminal bile salts, and inhibition of pancreatic hydrolytic enzymes. Thus, there is no single mechanism to explain the diarrhoea and malabsorption caused by Giardia, which currently should be regarded as a multifactorial process.

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