Defective spleen function in autoimmune gastrointestinal disorders

Paolo Giuffrida, Nicola Aronico, Matteo Rosselli, Marco Vincenzo Lenti, Sara Cococcia, Davide Roccarina, Francesca Saffioti, Mariangela Delliponti, Douglas Thorburn, Emanuela Miceli, Gino Roberto Corazza, Massimo Pinzani, Antonio Di Sabatino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Defective spleen function increases susceptibility to bacterial infections which can be prevented by vaccine prophylaxis. Splenic hypofunction can be found in a number of autoimmune disorders; however, no data are available regarding autoimmune atrophic gastritis (AAG), autoimmune enteropathy (AIE) and autoimmune liver disease (AILD). Peripheral blood samples from patients with AAG (n = 40), AIE (n = 3) and AILD (n = 40) were collected. Patients affected by autoimmune disorders already known to be associated with splenic hypofunction, i.e. coeliac disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC), were included as disease controls, while splenectomised patients and healthy subjects were evaluated as positive and negative controls, respectively. Counting of erythrocytes with membrane abnormalities, i.e. pitted red cells, was used as an indicator of spleen function (normal upper limit 4%). Defective splenic function was observed in 22 of the 40 patients with AAG (55.0%), in two of the three patients with AIE (66.6%) and in 35 of the 40 patients with AILD (87.5%). As expected, in untreated CD, refractory CD and UC there was a high prevalence of hyposplenism (43.7%, 88.2% and 54.4%, respectively). Due to the high prevalence of splenic hypofunction, patients with AAG, AILD and AIE should undergo pitted red cell evaluation and, if hyposplenic, they should be candidate to vaccine prophylaxis against encapsulated bacteria.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternal and Emergency Medicine
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2019


  • Autoimmune atrophic gastritis
  • Autoimmune enteropathy
  • Autoimmune liver disease
  • Coeliac disease
  • Pitted red cell
  • Ulcerative colitis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine
  • Emergency Medicine


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