Prevalence and characteristics of duodenal villous atrophy in renal transplant patients presenting with persistent diarrhea in a developing country

Farina M. Hanif, Nasir Hassan Luck, Zaigham Abbas, Tahir Aziz, Syed Mujahid Hassan, Muhammed Mubarak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: Persistent diarrhea is a common complication after solid-organ transplant, including kidney transplant. Data on duodenal villous atrophy as a cause of persistent diarrhea in renal transplant recipients are scarce. Materials and Methods: We conducted a prospective analysis of 207 patients who received renal trans plants from 2009 to 2012 with persistent diarrhea and who underwent upper gastrointestinal endoscopy and duodenal biopsies. Duodenal biopsies were examined for duodenal villous atrophy. Age, sex, transplant duration, and drugs were compared between patients with and without duodenal villous atrophy. After exclusion of known causes of duodenal villous atrophy, a 3-month course of antibiotics was given and outcomes were analyzed. Results:Of 207 renal transplant recipients, 104 patients (49.8%) displayed duodenal villous atrophy. Of these, 92 (88.5%) were male patients. The mean age of patients with duodenal villous atrophy was 34.9 ± 10.3 years. The mean onset of persistent diarrhea in DVApositive patients posttransplant was 2.16 ± 0.8 years. Celiac disease serology was positive in 18 (17.3) patients. Giardiasis was demonstrated in 11 patients (10.7%), whereas immunoproliferative small intestinal disease was shown in 7 patients (6.8%). The remaining 68 patients (65.38%) received antibiotics, with 50 recipients (74.6%) showing complete response, although 13 of these patients (26%) relapsed. Among the remaining 18 patients (26.47%), 9 (50%) had other causes and 9 (50%) had no cause found. Isoniazid prophylaxis showed statistically significant negative association with duodenal villous atrophy. Conclusions: Duodenal villous atrophy is highly prevalent in renal transplant recipients irrespective of age, sex, and posttransplant duration. We found tropical sprue, giardiasis, immunoproliferative small intestinal disease, and celiac disease to be important causes of duodenal villous atrophy. Therefore, duodenal biopsy is recommended in renal transplant recipients with persistent diarrhea.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)146-152
Number of pages7
JournalExperimental and Clinical Transplantation
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Celiac disease
  • Giardiasis
  • Renal transplant recipients


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