Digestive Diseases and Sciences

, Volume 30, Issue 5, pp 497–504 | Cite as

Intestinal infection withMycobacterium avium in acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS)

Histological and clinical comparison with Whipple's disease
  • Robert I. Roth
  • Robert L. Owen
  • David F. Keren
  • Paul A. Volberding
Case Report


At endoscopy, a 30-year-old man with acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), Kaposi's sarcoma, diarrhea, and unexplained malabsorption showed erythematous macular duodenal lesions consistent with Whipple's disease by histology and electron microscopy. Symptoms did not respond to tetracycline. Subsequent cultures revealed systemicMycobacterium avium (M. avium) infection. Tissue from this patient, from patients with Whipple's disease and from a macaque withM. avium were compared. All contained PAS-positive macrophages butM. avium could be distinguished by positive acid-fast stains and a difference in pattern of indirect immunofluorescence staining with bacterial typing antisera. PAS-positive macrophages in the intestinal lamina propria are no longer pathognomonic of Whipple's disease. Ultrastructural and histological similarities between Whipple's disease andM. avium infection suggest that both are manifestations of immune deficits limiting macrophage destruction of particular bacteria after phagocytosis.M. avium must be considered in the differential diagnosis of diarrhea in patients with AIDS and other immunosuppressed conditions.


Sarcoma Diarrhea Tetracycline Lamina Propria Acquire Immune Deficiency Syndrome 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert I. Roth
    • 1
    • 2
  • Robert L. Owen
    • 1
    • 2
  • David F. Keren
    • 1
    • 2
  • Paul A. Volberding
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Departments of Medicine and PathologyUniversity of CaliforniaSan Francisco
  2. 2.Department of PathologyUniversity of MichiganAnn Arbor

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