Intestinal villi: definition, structure and importance

Did you know that the intestine represents one of the organs with the most cell turnover? Indeed, in just five days its internal surface can be renewed. In addition to this, it has the intestinal villi, which contribute to the absorption of all nutrients and leads them to the bloodstream.

Similarly, they play an important role for people with celiac disease. In this sense, understanding its operation will be very useful to contribute to the well-being of the body.

What are intestinal villi?

It is a surface of filaments that are shaped like fingers. Which, protrude through the walls of the intestine, specifically the duodenum. The state of the intestinal villi is determined by the Marsh scale.

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Likewise, the lanosities measure approximately 0.5 and 1 mm, they are complemented by a large number of microvilli. Even though their size is tiny, they fulfill their main function, which is absorb nutrients and improve the digestive process. For this reason, if there are problems with its functioning, they can cause negative consequences for the body.

Structure and shape

The shape of the intestinal villi is similar to tiny elements that surround the lining of the intestine. In fact, it refers to the most important and decisive area for the digestive process. Although these are too small particles, they are very numerous. For this reason, they are distributed throughout the width and length of the organ.

The food you eat is mobilized by the rhythmic contractions exerted by the muscle walls. Even though they usually receive enzymes, bile and chemical rain from secretions. Because they are important? Without these villi, the nutrients would not reach the liver or other parts of the body.

In the beginning of the small intestine its quantity is greater, but it decreases as the certain path is traveled. Therefore, fewer villi are located in the large intestine area. By visualizing them, the scientists determined that resemble a velvet cape.

On the other hand, in the upper area of ​​the villi there is a membrane, which contains cells of different types. As a result, the absorption of nutrients in this part is usually directed to the lymphatic system or the blood.

How important are intestinal villi?

Celiac people represent the population most at risk of atrophy. Since when they eat gluten, the intestinal villi are affected. As a result, by consuming glutendevelop immune reactions in the body. Subsequently, this protein reacts and sets in motion defense mechanisms that end up inflaming the intestine.

Therefore, Crohn’s disease and celiac disease are the most recurrent conditions. After starting the condition, it is necessary to have intestinal biopsies. Which will determine if there are injuries and how serious they are. This is verified by the classification scale devised by the British pathologist Marsh.

Celiac disease is a disease that has many studies related to alterations at intestinal levels. These problems are confirmed by a excessive elevation of lymphocytes and this determines how serious the injuries are. In addition, important elements that are part of the structure of the intestinal villi are also studied.

Intestinal villus atrophy

Also known as villous atrophy, it is the loss or flattening of the intestinal villi. The injury of these filaments that are located in the intestinal walls is associated with celiac diseases. However, it is not exclusive to this disease, it can also be due to other disorders, such as tropical sprue, a rare and non-genetic condition. It is characterized by abnormal atrophy of the villi and inflammation of the lining of the small intestine.

Marsh leaderboard

It is important to mention that there are no degrees that distinguish the severity of celiac disease. What varies is the intensity, that is, the damage that the organs have suffered. In addition to the level of serious complications that can occur if a minimum amount of gluten is consumed, regardless of whether it is by direct consumption or through traces of cross contamination.

Based on that, Michael Marsh classified the degrees of injury into three groups. This scale makes it possible to determine the level or degree of injury to the intestine. In fact, the level of gluten that celiacs can support is extremely low.

This is why it can never be said that a celiac is much more serious than another. Above all, because a simple amount of gluten ingested can cause damage to the intestine. Each one is detailed below:

Injury or Grade 1

When the number of intraepithelial lymphocytes is greater than 25%, the structure of the villi is not altered. This grade is the most common in adult celiac people. However, it is not always a measure for them. Because it can also be caused by other types of diseases.

Injury or Grade 2

In this case the structure of the villi is still in normal values. However, they contain hyperplastic crypts that are located just at the base of the intestinal hairs. As for example, in the case of intraepithelial lymphocytes, in a much greater number.

Injury or Grade 3

Patients in this grade have villus atrophy, increased IELs, and crypt hyperplasia. To distinguish the degree of damage that may exist, they are divided into categories such as partial, subtotal and total.

What are intestinal biopsies?

It is the most common test to determine that a person is celiac. If you have doubts about a first diagnosis, with the intestinal biopsy you will check whether or not you suffer from this disease. Although celiac disease is already confirmed by an expert in the field, they still recommend a biopsy to determine the degree of injury suffered.

How do they perform the procedure? A small particle is removed from the surface area of ​​the intestine to analyze and detect possible alterations. Although it is considered the most accurate test, there are also other studies that confirm celiac disease. The test is invasive and painless, as the patient is sedated in the process.

Generally, the recommendation is to take three samples for the biopsy, and that these be from the second or third part of the duodenum. Specifically, in the area of ​​the small intestine where the jejunum and stomach meet. This procedure almost always lasts between 30 minutes and an hour.

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