Nondysenteric intestinal amebiasis colonic morphology and search for Entamoeba histolytica adherence and invasion

Easwaran P. Variyam, Prema Gogate, Mehdat Hassan, William J. Costerton, Shiv Pillai, Honorine Ward, Kamal Jalan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


There is controversy regarding the presence of colonic mucosal abnormalities or mucosal invasion by Entamoeba histolytica in patients with "nondysenteric intestinal amebiasis." To determine the role of E. histolytica in causing symptoms and mucosal changes and to detect if mucosal invasion by E. histolytica is present in nondynsenteric intestinal amebiasis, we evaluated 24 E. histolytica-infected patients (stool microscopy positive for E. histolytica)and 12 noninfected controls who presented with chronic gastrointestinal symptoms, but without dysentery, to a clinic in Calcutta. The colonic mucosa was evaluated at colonoscopy, and mucosal biopsies obtained from the cecum, sigmoid colon, and rectum were evaluated by light microscopy, indirect immunofluorescence microscopy, and scanning electron microscopy. At colonoscopy mucosal ulcerations were absent in all the controls and all except one of the E. histolytica-infected patients. E. histolytica trophozoites or cysts were not seen in the lamina propria or on the luminal surface in any infected patient by light and immunofluorescence microscopy. On scanning electron microscopy, structures that resembled rounded E. histolytica trophozoites were seen on the luminal surface in two of 19 cecal specimens from the infected patients. Moderate or severe mucosal inflammation was frequent on light microscopy in both the E. histolytica -infected patients and the noninfected controls with the cecum involved in two thirds of both groups. Antibodies to E. histolytica were detected in serum of 25% of study patients and 58% of controls. Mucosal inflammation did not correlate with stool positivity for E. histolytica or seropositivity for ameba antibody. We conclude that in patients with "nondysenteric intestinal amebiasis," E. histolytica adherence to colonic mucosa is infrequent and that mucosal invasion by the organism is unlikely. Colonic mucosal inflammation is highly prevalent in patients with chronic lower abdominal symptoms in this tropical region, but the inflammation and symptoms are unrelated to E. histolytica infection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)732-740
Number of pages9
JournalDigestive Diseases and Sciences
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1989
Externally publishedYes


  • Entamoeba histolytica
  • amebiasis
  • nonspecific colitis
  • tropical colonopathy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Gastroenterology


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