Aims—To compare jejunal mucosal morphometry in HIV infected patients resident in London and Uganda.
Patients—Twenty HIV positive patients from London and 16 from Uganda were studied, and compared with HIV negative control subjects from both sites.
Methods—Stools and biopsy specimens were examined for enteropathogens. Surface area to volume (S:V) ratio was estimated morphometrically, mean crypt length of jejunal biopsy specimens was measured, and HIV infected cells detected immunohistochemically were quantified.
Results—Enteric pathogens were detected in none of the London patients, and in three Ugandan patients. S:V ratio was lower, and mean crypt length higher, in the specimens of London patients than in normal subjects, but there was no difference in S:V ratio or mean crypt length between Ugandan patients and controls. A negative correlation was present between S:V ratio and mean crypt length in all biopsy specimens analysed. HIV infected cells were detected only in lamina propria.
Conclusion—Infection of cells in the lamina propria of the jejunum with HIV stimulates crypt cell proliferation, and a fall in villous surface area. The mucosal response to HIV is masked by other pathogens in the African environment.
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