Protein-losing enteropathy (PLE) refers to any condition of the gastrointestinal tract, such as damage to the gut wall, that results in a net loss of protein from the body. PLE can be caused by conditions like inflammatory bowel disease, celiac disease, lymphangiectasia, and certain types of cancer.
Symptoms of PLE can include diarrhea, abdominal pain, weight loss, and edema due to the loss of protein from the body. In addition, PLE can lead to a decrease in the level of proteins in the blood (hypoproteinemia) which can lead to anemia, a decrease in immunity, and an increase in the risk of infections. Treatment of PLE focuses on correcting the underlying disease and may include medications to reduce inflammation, surgery, protein, as well as vitamin and mineral supplements to prevent malnutrition.