The American journal of surgical pathology

Villin immunohistochemistry is a reliable method for diagnosing microvillus inclusion disease.

PMID 25517957


Microvillus inclusion disease (MVID) is a rare congenital disorder that manifests early in infancy as intractable watery diarrhea. The entity is characterized morphologically by a deficient brush border and apical cytoplasmic inclusions within absorptive cells (enterocytes) due to misplaced assembly of brush border proteins. The diagnosis is based upon histopathology, special stains, immunohistochemistry (IHC), and ultimately upon electron microscopy. Currently, the periodic acid-Schiff stain (PAS) and CD10 IHC are commonly used as adjuncts, but in addition to brush border structures, they stain a variety of apical cytoplasmic inclusions and organelles, thereby interfering with recognition of microvillus inclusions. Villin is a protein that specifically binds to the actin core bundle of microvilli. We utilized villin IHC in formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded gastrointestinal biopsies from 6 patients with MVID, 5 with celiac disease, and 17 children with normal intestinal biopsies and compared the results with those obtained with CD10 IHC and PAS staining. All MVID cases had confirmatory electron microscopy at the time of diagnosis. Villin immunoreactivity was restricted to the brush border in the control groups. In MVID, villin IHC showed attenuation or loss of the surface brush border and also highlighted the cytoplasmic microvillus inclusions with clarity. In MVID, CD10 IHC and the PAS stain also showed attenuation or loss of the surface brush border, but staining of a variety of cytoplasmic structures largely obscured the microvillus inclusions. In sum, villin IHC is a reliable and superior adjunct in the diagnosis of MVID. Study of additional cases will determine whether villin IHC would obviate the need for electron microscopic confirmation.