Menetrier’s disease is a medical condition in which ridges form along the inside of the stomach wall, which enlarge and form giant folds in the stomach’s lining. These giant ridges are referred to as rugae, which enlarge because of an overgrowth of mucous cells in the wall of the stomach.
In a healthy stomach, the mucous cells in the rugae tend to release a certain protein-containing mucous in large amounts. This process causes the protein to leak from the blood into the stomach, causing a shortage of protein in the stomach. A patient suffering from Menetrier’s disease also experiences a reduction in the number of acid-producing cells in the stomach, thus decreasing the stomach acid.
Scientists are not exactly sure of what it is exactly that could cause Menetrier’s disease, though researchers think that a lot of people acquire this disease instead of inheriting it. In some of the rarest cases, siblings tend to develop Menetrier’s disease as children, possibility suggesting a genetic link.
Several studies have suggested that people suffering from this disease tend to have stomachs that make abnormally high amounts of a certain protein called transforming growth factor-alpha (TGF-o). This protein binds to as well as activates a receptor referred to as epidermal growth factor receptor. Growth factors are proteins inside the body that tell the cells what they are supposed to do, such as change their shape, grow larger, divide and multiply, etc. Researchers have, however, not found any case that is marked by an overproduction of TGF-o.
Other studies have found that people suffering from Menetrier’s disease had Helicobacter pylori infection; this is the bacterium that causes peptic ulcers or sore inside the lining of the stomach or the duodenum, which is the first part of the small intestine. In such cases, it was found that treating the infection improved the symptoms of the disease.
Menetrier’s disease in children has also been linked to infection with cytomegalovirus, one of the herpes viruses.
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