Apoptotic epithelial cells in biopsy specimens from infants with streaked rectal bleeding.J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr 2001; 32(4):428-33JP
Histologic studies of rectosigmoidal mucosal biopsies of infants with isolated blood-streaked stool have shown many eosinophils and revealed aggregates of small dark granules (nuclear dust). However, no description of the nuclear dust has been made for this condition and the nature of the nuclear dust has not been thoroughly investigated. We determined the characteristics of these particles in biopsies from infants with streaked rectal bleeding.
Nineteen infants who were younger than 6 months old and had isolated rectal bleeding were studied, as were six age-matched control infants. Rectosigmoidal mucosal biopsies were immunohistochemically assessed using anticarcinoembryonic antigen and macrophage-associated antibodies and examined for apoptotic cells by modified in situ TdT-mediated dUTP-biotin nick-end labelling. The number of apoptotic epithelial cells was compared between rectal bleeding and control groups.
Immunohistochemistry showed that at least some of the nuclear dust consisted of apoptotic epithelial cells. Infants with rectal bleeding also showed nodular lymphoid hyperplasia (n = 16), abundant eosinophils (>20/high power field, n = 14) in the mucosa, and a significantly high number of apoptotic epithelial cells relative to the control group. Rectal bleeding disappeared at 6-month follow-up in 14 of 18 infants (one was lost to follow-up) who were fed a different milk formula or breast-fed (their mothers were restricted from having cow's milk and eggs).
The high number of apoptotic epithelial cells in rectosigmoidal mucosal biopsies of infants with streaked rectal bleeding is probably caused by accelerated epithelial cell turnover and apoptosis.