“It is on shaky ground that one defines a disease by a response to therapy rather than by its clinical and mechanistic characteristics.” This is noted in a recent editorial (Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol 2014; 12: 2023-25, study: 2015-22).
The editorial makes this comment because the related study finds that the esophageal tissue from eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE) patients with proton-pump responsive EoE (PPI-REE) was indistinguishable from patients with EoE who do not respond to PPIs.
The study examined 196 consecutive patients and performed immunohistochemistry to examine major basic protein (MP), eotaxin-3, and tryptase. Key finding: none of these markers were able to distinguish EoE from PPI-REE; however, these 3 assays did identify EoE with 100% accuracy compared with controls.
From the editorial: “We can approach EoE as a disease in which use of PPIs is the first step in treatment, and diet and steroids represent step-up therapy…We may not understand why some patients with EoE respond to PPIs yet others do not.” It is possible that genetic testing in the future will allow us to distinguish which patients will benefit from PPIs, topical steroids or diets.
Bottomline: Now that it is well-recognized that a substantial portion of EoE patients benefit from PPIs, is it necessary to try to use a separate label for this subset? Probably not.
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