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Protein-losing enteropathy


Protein-losing enteropathy is an abnormal loss of protein from the digestive tract. It can also refer to the inability of the digestive tract to absorb proteins.


There are many causes of protein-losing enteropathy. Conditions that cause serious inflammation in the intestines can lead to protein loss. Some of these are:

  • Bacteria or parasite infection of the intestines
  • Celiac sprue
  • Crohn disease
  • HIV infection
  • Lymphoma



Symptoms can include diarrhea, fever, and abdominal pain. Symptoms will depend on the disease that is causing the problem.


Exams and Tests


You may need tests that look at the intestinal tract. These may include a CT scan of the abdomen or an upper GI bowel series.

Other tests you may need include:

  • Colonoscopy
  • Esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD)
  • Small intestine biopsy
  • Alpha-1-antitrypsin test
  • Small bowel capsule endoscopy
  • CT or MR enterography
  • Alpha-1-antitrypsin test




The health care provider will treat the condition that caused protein-losing enteropathy.




Greenwald DA. Protein losing gastroenteropathy. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger & Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease . 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 30.

Semrad CE. Approach to the patient with diarrhea and malabsorption. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine . 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 140.


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            Review Date: 7/22/2016

            Reviewed By: Subodh K. Lal, MD, gastroenterologist with Gastrointestinal Specialists of Georgia, Austell, GA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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