Duodenal endocrine cells in 11 patients with familial amyloid associated polyneuropathy (FAP) were compared with those in 12 healthy volunteers by means of immunohistochemistry and morphometry. The total endocrine cell content, determined by the argyrophilic reaction and chromogranin A immunoreactivity, was significantly reduced in FAP patients compared with controls. There was a significant reduction in the serotonin, cholecystokinin/gastrin, and secretin immunoreactive cell content. A decreased cell content was also noted for somatostatin and gastric inhibitory polypeptide immunoreactive cells but this was not statistically significant. Amyloid deposits were noted in seven of the 11 biopsy specimens from FAP patients, but otherwise the duodenum was histologically normal in both groups. The reduction in endocrine cell content was not correlated with the degree of amyloid deposit in the duodenum. These findings indicate that patients with FAP have reduced intestinal endocrine cells. This does not seem to be related to amyloid deposits in the mucosa or to villous or crypt abnormalities. The observed changes in endocrine cells may contribute to the development of intestinal motility dysfunction and maldigestion in these patients.
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