What is the pathology of Shigella infection?

Updated: Apr 03, 2018
  • Author: Jaya Sureshbabu, MBBS, MRCPCH(UK), MRCPI(Paeds), MRCPS(Glasg), DCH(Glasg); Chief Editor: Russell W Steele, MD  more...
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The host response to primary infection is characterized by the induction of an acute inflammation, which is accompanied by polymorphonuclear cell (PMN) infiltration, resulting in massive destruction of the colonic mucosa. Apoptotic destruction of macrophages in subepithelial tissue allows survival of the invading shigellae, and inflammation facilitates further bacterial entry.

Gross pathology consists of mucosal edema, erythema, friability, superficial ulceration, and focal mucosal hemorrhage involving the rectosigmoid junction primarily.

Microscopic pathology consists of epithelial cell necrosis, goblet cell depletion, PMN infiltrates and mononuclear infiltrates in lamina propria, and crypt abscess formation.

Shigella bacteria invade the intestinal epithelium through M cells and proceed to spread from cell to cell, causing death and sloughing of contiguously invaded epithelial cells and inducing a potent inflammatory response resulting in the characteristic dysentery syndrome. In addition to this series of pathogenic events, only S dysenteriae type 1 has the ability to elaborate the potent Shiga toxin that inhibits protein synthesis in eukaryotic cells and that may lead to extraintestinal complications, including hemolytic-uremic syndrome and death. Invasion of M cells, the specialized cells that cover the lymphoid follicles of the mucosa, overlying Peyer patches, may be the earliest event. [2]

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