Histopathologic findings of duodenal biopsy specimens in HIV-infected patients with and without diarrhea and malabsorption

E. D. Ehrenpreis, B. K. Patterson, J. A. Brainer, H. Yokoo, Alfred W Rademaker, W. Glogowski, Gary A Noskin, R. M. Craig*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


The significance of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in the small intestinal lamina propria in patients with the acquired immune deficiency syndrome or conditions related to that syndrome who have chronic diarrhea and malabsorption is unclear. To investigate this issue, upper endoscopy (after a 12- to 16-hour fast) with duodenal biopsy and aspirate was performed in 20 HIV-infected seropositive homosexual men referred for diarrhea of more than 8 weeks duration (Group 2) and in 9 HIV-infected homosexual men referred for dysphagia or dyspepsia with no symptoms of malabsorption (Group 1). All biopsy specimens were examined by light microscopy and immunochemical staining with monoclonal antibody against HIV glycoprotein gp41. Electron microscopy was performed in 18 patients in Group 2 and in all patients in Group 1. Immunogold electron microscopy was used as a confirmatory test for identified HIV particles. In addition, D-xylose absorption was measured in all patients after a 25-g dose of D-xylose with measurement of serum D-xylose concentration 1 hour after the dose and measurement of 5-hour urinary D-xylose excretion. Mean serum D-xylose was 35.4 ± 4.5 mg/dL in Group 1 and 15.8 ± 2.3 mg/dL in Group 2 (P < 0.001), whereas mean urine D-xylose was 5.5 ± 0.6 g in Group 1 and 2.0 ± 0.4 g in Group 2 (P < 0.001). Immunoperoxidase for gp41 was positive in 5 (56%) patients in Group 1 and in 12 (60%) patients in Group 2. Lamina propria HIV viral particles were identified hy electron microscopy in both patient groups. Viral particles were seen within and adjacent to the cytoplasm of mononuclear cells and were not present in enterocytes or neuroendocrine cells. There were no significant differences in serum or urine D-xylose tests between patients with and without lamina propria HIV. In addition, lipid accumulation in intercellular spaces near the basolateral membrane of adjacent enterocytes was seen in 33% of patients with chronic diarrhea. These findings suggest that lamina propria HIV is not a direct cause of enteropathy in HIV-infected patients and that lymphatic obstruction may be one pathophysiologic mechanism producing this malabsorptive state.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)21-28
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Clinical Pathology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 1992


  • B12 deficiency
  • D-xylose
  • acquired immune deficiency syndrome
  • electron microscopy
  • enterocytes
  • immunoperoxidase
  • lamina propria
  • lipid
  • malabsorption
  • small intestinal disorders
  • viral particles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine

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