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Minerva Gastroenterologica e Dietologica 2019 March;65(1):53-62

DOI: 10.23736/S1121-421X.18.02539-4


language: English

Microscopic colitis: a narrative review with clinical approach

Elena MOSSO 1, Valentina BOANO 1, Mario GRASSINI 2, Edda BATTAGLIA 2, Rinaldo PELLICANO 3

1 Department of Gastroenterology, University of Turin, Turin, Italy; 2 Section of Physiopathology and Manometry, Unit of Gastroenterology and Endoscopy, Cardinal Massaja Hospital, Asti, Italy; 3 Unit of Gastroenterology, Molinette-SGAS Hospital, Turin, Italy

Microscopic colitis (MC) is diagnosed in presence of microscopic alterations of colonic mucosa, in patients without macroscopic lesions who referred for chronic diarrhea. The two types of MC are lymphocytic colitis (LC) and collagenous colitis (CC), but it is unclear whether these are the different expression of one unique disease or if they are distinct conditions. Today, although MC represents a consistent health problem, being responsible for a large part of gastroenterological consultations for diarrhea, it remains often underestimated. The detailed pathogenesis of MC has not been determined yet. Probably, it is the result of an interaction between individual, environmental and genetic factors. The most relevant risk factor for the development of MC is the use of certain drugs (such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs [NSAIDs], proton pump inhibitors [PPIs], selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, beta-blockers, statins). Smoking is another relevant factor reported as associated with the development of MC. Diagnosis needs the execution of a colonoscopy in patients complaining about chronic diarrhea and abdominal pain. The crucial role is played by histology: MC is characterized by the presence of colonic mucosal lymphocytic infiltrate, with intraepithelial lymphocytes ≥20 per 100 enteric surface cells, in CC there is a typical subepithelial collagen layer, whose thickness is ≥10 μm. We carried out a review of the current literature to rule out what is new on epidemiology, diagnosis and therapy of MC.

KEY WORDS: Colitis, microscopic - Colitis, lymphocytic - Colitis, collagenous - Diarrhea

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