Sprue and Intestinal Malabsorption in Tropical Climates


The inability to absorb nutrients normally from the small intestine.

Keywords: tropical sprue; tropics; small intestine

Figure 1.

World map showing areas where PIM has been reliably demonstrated. Boxes mark the three locations in Africa where limited observations have documented the disease.

Figure 2.

The vicious cycle leading to the fully developed PIM syndrome. When tetracycline is given to eliminate the bacterial flora at (a), and folic acid is given to hasten enterocyte recovery at (b), the cycle is broken and clinical recovery ensues.

Figure 3.

Two individuals, investigated and treated in London, suffering from severe PIM.

Figure 4.

Jejunal morphology in two cases of PIM investigated and treated in London. Although there is villous ‘blunting’, a ‘flat’ jejunal mucosa is very unusual.



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Cook, Gordon C(Jun 2001) Sprue and Intestinal Malabsorption in Tropical Climates. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. http://www.els.net [doi: 10.1038/npg.els.0002135]