RATIONAL: Intestinal lymphangiectasia (IL) is a rare disease characterized by dilatation and rupture of intestinal lymphatic channels leading to protein-losing enteropathy. IL is classified as primary and secondary types. PATIENT CONCERNS: A 3-month-old girl born at term from vaginal delivery with an APGAR score of 10/10 and birth weight of 4.310 g (>97° percentile) was admitted to our hospital because of increasing abdominal tenderness and diarrhea. At first examination, she presented an abdominal circumference of 60 cm, edema of the lower extremities and vulva, and facial dysmorphisms (hypertelorism, flat nasal bridge, flat mid-face). DIAGNOSIS: Once admitted, ultrasonography showed a large amount of ascites, while blood laboratory investigations revealed severe hypoproteinemia, hypoalbuminemia and hypogammaglobulinemia. Lymphoscintigraphy with 99m-Tc-nanocolloid demonstrated abnormal leakage of the tracer in the abdomen as evidence of IL. To detect a possible secondary, exams were performed and demonstrated positive antibody titres for CMV-IgM and IgG in blood and CMV-DNA positivity in blood, urine, saliva, maternal milk, and gastric and duodenal biopsies. Genetic investigations identified the genomic variant c.472C>T of the CCBE1 gene, coding for a protein variant (p.Arg158Cys), in homozygosity. INTERVENTIONS: Total parenteral nutrition was started and continued for a total of 18 days, then gradually bridged by enteral nutrition with a special formula. In addition, antiviral therapy for CMV infection was added first with intravenous ganciclovir for 14 days, resulting in the disappearance of blood viral load after 7 days of therapy and then with valganciclovir per os for another 30 days. OUTCOMES: The clinical course of the child gradually improved. A few days after starting treatments, lower extremities and vulvar edema disappeared, and abdominal circumference gradually decreased to a stable value of 38 cm, without any ultrasonographic signs of ascites left. Moreover, serum albumin and IgG rose to normal values after 3 months (4.3 g/dL and 501 mg/dL, respectively). LESSONS: This case suggests that in presence of IL both primary and secondary causes should be evaluated. On the other hand, genetic diagnosis is crucial not only for diagnosis but also for prognosis in HS. Life expectancy and quality could deeply vary among different gene mutations and protein variants of the same gene. Further studies and case reports are needed to better understand the clinical meaning of these genetic results and the role of CMV as trigger of IL.
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