Twelve patients with primary hypogammaglobulinaemia with diarrhoea not associated with known microbial pathogens were investigated. Histological evidence of inflammation was common in the stomach and jejunum. Moreover, eight of 10 patients undergoing colonoscopy had low grade 'microscopic colitis' with raised intraepithelial lymphocytes and an intact crypt architecture. Five of 12 patients had small intestinal inflammation on 111indium leucocyte scintigrams and all had increased faecal excretion (normal < 1%) of 111indium (over four days), which varied in intensity from mild (faecal excretion of 111indium = 1-3%) to that comparable with moderately active (7-14.5%) Crohn's disease. Three patients had small intestinal strictures superficially resembling Crohn's disease. Histologically, however, these lacked characteristic diagnostic features of Crohn's disease in two and the third patient had non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug induced diaphragm like strictures. Six of seven who were most severely symptomatic were successfully treated with an elemental diet with rapid improvement of symptoms. The faecal excretion of 111indium was repeated in five and all improved but histologically the colitis remained unchanged. These studies show that some patients with primary hypogammaglobulinaemia have intestinal inflammation unlike that found in classic inflammatory bowel disease. Elemental diet is a useful temporary measure in the treatment of these patients.
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