This review summarizes our current understanding of lymphocytic esophagitis (LE), a novel form of chronic esophagitis that incorporates distinctive histologic, clinical, and endoscopic features. First described as a histologic entity, a diagnosis of LE requires intraepithelial lymphocytosis without significant granulocytic inflammation and some evidence of epithelial damage; the rationale for and studies supportive of these histologic criteria are discussed within. Clinically, the majority of patients who present with histologically confirmed LE are older women or patients with underlying immunologic abnormalities, such as Crohn disease, rheumatologic disorders, or common variable immunodeficiency. The most common presenting symptom of LE is dysphagia, and the endoscopic findings can vary from normal mucosa to mucosal changes that resemble eosinophilic esophagitis: edema, rings, furrows, and plaques. The incidence of luminal strictures and the persistent dysphagia and/or lymphocytosis present in some patients provide evidence that LE is a chronic inflammatory disorder, at least within a subset of individuals. Several histologic mimics of LE are examined, as are disagreements surrounding the LE diagnosis.
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