Gastrointestinal malakoplakia: Clinicopathologic analysis of 26 cases

Yang Zhang, Kathleen Byrnes, Dora Lam-Himlin, Meredith Pittman, Maryam Pezhouh, Raul S. Gonzalez, Zainab Alruwaii, Tatianna Larman, James A. Miller, Andres Matoso, Kiyoko Oshima, Jonathan I. Epstein, Elizabeth A. Montgomery, Lysandra Voltaggio*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Malakoplakia is an inflammatory process related to defective macrophage response to bacterial infection. To further characterize the clinicopathologic manifestations of gastrointestinal malakoplakia, 26 cases were identified from 6 institutions. Hematoxylin and eosin-stained slides and available stains were reviewed, and pertinent clinicopathologic features analyzed. Sixteen patients were women (62%). Mean patient age was 64 (range: 24 to 83). Sites included the colorectum (n=23), appendix (n=1), and stomach (n=2). Clinical indications for tissue procurement included screening (n=14), tumor resection (n=5), diarrhea (n=1), adenoma surveillance (n=1), ulcerative colitis flare (n=1), abdominal pain (n=1), and appendicitis (1). All cases featured histiocytes with abundant, pale, eosinophilic cytoplasm focally containing Michaelis-Gutmann bodies. The process frequently involved the mucosa (n=19), with architectural distortion in 13 cases. Lymphoid aggregates were present in 18 cases, which were prominent or obscuring in 11 (all colon biopsies) and provoked concern for lymphoma in 2. Associated findings included adenocarcinoma (n=5), adenoma (n=2), gastric hyperplastic polyps (n=1), chemical gastritis (n=1), collagenous colitis (n=1), and active chronic colitis (n=2). In cases with available stains, Michaelis-Gutman bodies were highlighted by Periodic Acid-Schiff with diastase, Von Kossa, and iron stains. Although 2 cases were positive for Tropheryma whipplei antibody, no T. whipplei transcripts were detected on real-time polymerase chain reaction. All patients with available follow-up are alive and well with no additional instances of malakoplakia. Malakoplakia of the gastrointestinal tract is a benign, incidental finding. Although histologic features in the stomach and colon resections are similar to those at other sites, exuberant lymphocytic response in colon biopsies and immunoreactivity with T. whippleii antibody may provoke initial confusion and lead to unnecessary time and resource investment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1251-1258
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Surgical Pathology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2020


  • Digestive system
  • Gastrointestinal
  • Malakoplakia
  • Michaelis-Gutmann bodies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Surgery
  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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