Collagenous and lymphocytic colitis

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56 Scopus citations


Collagenous and lymphocytic colitis have been recognized as chronic intestinal inflammatory disorders causing watery diarrhea, which have been recognized in the past three to two decades, respectively. Collagenous colitis is primarily a disorder of middle-aged women and is characterized on biopsy by increased subepithelial collagen as well as increased inflammatory cells in the lamina propria and increased intraepithelial lymphocytes. Key to the correct diagnosis in this condition is recognizing that there are two words in this diagnostic entity, and colitis is, by definition, present. Focusing solely on the collagen band can result in both over- and underdiagnosis. Newer therapeutic options are available in this condition, and patients are now frequently being treated either with budesonide or with high dose bismuth preparations. Whereas collagenous colitis is a tightly coherent clinical pathologic entity, lymphocytic colitis has a more varied clinical picture. Lymphocytic colitis is also seen in middle-aged patients but has a more equal female-to-male ratio. Lymphocytic colitis is defined by increased intraepithelial lymphocytes, with the median being 30 lymphocytes per 100 epithelial cells. There are also an increase in inflammatory cells in the lamina propria, but the increase may be milder than in collagenous colitis and there are usually minimal eosinophils. Although numerous studies have described lymphocytic colitis causing a chronic diarrhea, more recent studies suggest that patients may have a single attack in approximately 60% of cases. Although most cases of lymphocytic colitis are idiopathic, there is a clear association with multiple drugs, celiac disease, and there may be an infectious trigger. Approximately 10% of lymphocytic colitis patients have a positive family history of some type of inflammatory intestinal disease, including ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease, collagenous colitis, and celiac disease. Therapy in lymphocytic colitis is less well studied, but the same medications are used with success, including budesonide and high dose bismuth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)295-300
Number of pages6
JournalSeminars in Diagnostic Pathology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Budesonide
  • Colitis
  • Collagenous
  • Lymphocytic colitis
  • Microscopic colitis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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