Volume 98 Number 6
  • ISSN: 0002-9637
  • E-ISSN: 1476-1645



Despite nutrition interventions, stunting thought to be secondary to underlying environmental enteropathy (EE) remains pervasive among infants residing in resource-poor countries and remains poorly characterized. From a birth cohort of 380 children, 65 malnourished infants received 12 weeks of nutritional supplementation with ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF). Eleven children with insufficient response to RUTF underwent upper endoscopy with duodenal biopsies, which were compared with U.S., age-matched specimens for healthy, celiac disease, non-celiac villous atrophy, non-celiac intraepithelial lymphocytosis, and graft-versus-host disease patients. Of the 11 children biopsied, EE was found in 10 (91%) with one subject with celiac disease. Morphometry demonstrated decreased villus-to-crypt (V:C) ratios in EE relative to healthy and non-celiac lymphocytosis patients. Environmental enteropathy villus volumes were significantly decreased relative to healthy controls. In EE, average CD3 cells per 100 epithelial cells and per 1,000 µm of lamina propria and the number of lamina propria CD20 B-cell aggregates were increased relative to all other groups. Our results indicate that V:C ratios are reduced in EE but are less severe than in celiac disease. Environmental enteropathy intraepithelial and lamina propria T lymphocytosis is of greater magnitude than that in celiac disease. The increases in lamina propria B and T lymphocytes suggest that non-cytolytic lymphocytic activation may be a more prominent feature of EE relative to celiac disease. These results provide new insights into shared yet distinct histological and immunological features of EE and celiac disease in children.

[open-access] This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


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  • Received : 12 Apr 2017
  • Accepted : 29 Jan 2018

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