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Tropical Sprue

  • It is currently thought that Tropical Sprue is caused by infection with some type of bacteria although the identity of the organism and pathogenesis of the disease remain cryptic.
  • The histomorphology of tropical sprue is somewhat similar to that of celiac disease and is characterized by blunted intestinal villi and lymphocytes within the small intestine lamina propria. However, in contrast to celiac disease, these changes are observed throughout the small intestine and do not remit with elimination of gluten from the diet.
  • Tropical sprue occurs in individuals living in tropical areas such as the Caribbean, Southeast Asia, Southern Africa, some parts of South America.
Clinical Consequences
  • Tropical sprue is characterized by chronic diarrhea or steatorrhea with weight loss. Occasionally symptomology is accompanied by signs of folate and Vitamin B12 deficiency.
  • Antibiotics usually eliminate disease, supporting an infectious etiology.