Background. Intestinal allograft biopsies limit histopathological analysis to the superficial layers of the bowel. These biopsies allow a reasonable assessment of the histological features of acute rejection, but characteristics of chronic injury in mucosal layers remain poorly defined because of the limitations posed by endoscopic sampling. Experimental work has inferred that intestinal mucosal fibrosis may be indicative of chronic rejection; however, a temporal, graded study of mucosal fibrosis has not been performed. Methods. A total of 79 endoscopic intestinal allograft biopsies from 12 patients obtained at 3 to 120 days posttransplantation were evaluated. Fibrosis and individual parameters of acute cellular rejection were graded according to a semiquantitative scoring system and were evaluated for potential relationships with each other. Results. We found that while acute rejection tends to occur early in the posttransplant period, fibrosis of the lamina propria increases at a later time, particularly in the third and fourth month. Several individual graded parameters of acute rejection had an association with fibrosis at the same time points. Conclusions. Fibrous replacement of the lamina propria in human endoscopic allograft biopsies occurs with advancing time after transplantation. Acute rejection precedes and may have some eventual impact upon the amount of fibrosis present. A measurement of the connective tissue component of bowel transplant tissue may serve as a harbinger of long-term enteral allograft dysfunction.
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