Multinucleated epithelial giant cells (MEG) simulating viral cytopathic effect and/or dysplasia have been reported in the esophagus in association with inflammation, but the occurrence of similar cells in the colon has not been documented. Twenty-three colon specimens (22 biopsies and 1 partial colectomy) featuring MEG from 21 patients were evaluated for a variety of histologic features and correlated with clinical, endoscopic, and follow-up data. Patients included 9 males and 12 females (mean age, 64.9 years; range, 45-86 years). Eleven cases were obtained from 10 asymptomatic patients undergoing surveillance biopsies. Presenting symptoms in the remaining patients were dyspepsia, anemia, abdominal pain, and hematochezia. Over half (13 of 23) of the specimens were from descending and rectosigmoid colon, and almost all were visualized as polyps on endoscopy. Microscopically, all but 1 of the cases featured multiple MEG (range, 6 to >50 cells per biopsy) in the base and mid crypt zones of inflamed polyps with serrated architecture. Immunohistochemical stains for CMV, HSV, adenovirus, EBV, and polyoma virus were negative and no viral particles were identified on ultrastructural examination. Nuclear staining for hMLH1 and hMSH2, markers of microsatellite instability, was similar in distribution to adjacent serrated crypts, but reduced staining intensity was noted in occasional multinucleated cells. Expression of Ki-67 and cleaved caspase 3 was consistent with a quiescent or low proliferative state. Clinical follow-up was available for 9 patients (mean duration, 22.7 months). One patient died of heart failure; all others were well at last follow-up. Bizarre MEG may occasionally be seen within the crypts of inflamed polyps with serrated architecture, raising concern for dysplasia or viral infection. Immunohistochemical and ultrastructural studies fail to establish a viral etiology, and follow-up does not indicate clinically aggressive disease. These changes appear to represent a nonspecific, possibly degenerative response to inflammation and injury, and should be distinguished from dysplasia.
View details for Web of Science ID 000230102600009
View details for PubMedID 15958856