Clinical practice: Protein-losing enteropathy in children

Marjet J. A. M. Braamskamp, Koert M. Dolman, Merit M. Tabbers

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Protein-losing enteropathy (PLE) is a rare complication of a variety of intestinal disorders characterized by an excessive loss of proteins into the gastrointestinal tract due to impaired integrity of the mucosa. The clinical presentation of patients with PLE is highly variable, depending upon the underlying cause, but mainly consists of edema due to hypoproteinemia. While considering PLE, other causes of hypoproteinemia such as malnutrition, impaired synthesis, or protein loss through other organs like the kidney, liver, or skin, have to be excluded. The disorders causing PLE can be divided into those due to protein loss from intestinal lymphatics, like primary intestinal lymphangiectasia or congenital heart disease and those with protein loss due to an inflamed or abnormal mucosal surface. The diagnosis is confirmed by increased fecal concentrations of alpha-1-antitrypsin. After PLE is diagnosed, the underlying cause should be identified by stool cultures, serologic evaluation, cardiac screening, or radiographic imaging. Treatment of PLE consists of nutrition state maintenance by using a high protein diet with supplement of fat-soluble vitamins. In patients with lymphangiectasia, a low fat with medium chain triglycerides (MCT) diet should be prescribed. Besides dietary adjustments, appropriate treatment for the underlying etiology is necessary and supportive care to avoid complications of edema. PLE is a rare complication of various diseases, mostly gastrointestinal or cardiac conditions that result into loss of proteins in the gastrointestinal tract. Prognosis depends upon the severity and treatment options of the underlying disease. © 2010 The Author(s).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1179-1185
JournalEuropean Journal of Pediatrics
Volume169
Issue number10
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes

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