Whipple’s disease is a rare bacterial infection primarily affecting the small intestine. It can also affect the heart, lungs, brain, joints, and eyes.
Bacteria called Tropheryma whipplei (T. whipplei) cause Whipple’s disease.
Scientists are unsure how T. whipplei infects people.
Whipple’s disease is most common in middle-aged Caucasian men.
Classic signs and symptoms of Whipple’s disease include joint pain, chronic diarrhea, weight loss, abdominal pain and bloating, fever, fatigue, and anemia.
Neurologic symptoms of Whipple’s disease can mimic those of almost any other neurologic condition.
Whipple’s disease is diagnosed through a careful evaluation of symptoms, endoscopy, and biopsy with tissue staining. Electron microscopy and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing are used to confirm a diagnosis.
Whipple’s disease is treated with long-term antibiotics that kill T. whipplei bacteria.
After treatment, the likely outcome for most people with Whipple’s disease is good.
People with neurologic Whipple’s disease who relapse tend to have much poorer health outcomes, including serious neurologic symptoms and even death.
Recent studies suggest people with Ménétrier disease have stomachs that make abnormally high amounts of transforming growth factor alpha (TGF-α)—a protein that tells cells what to do.