Protein-losing enteropathy (PLE) is not a single disease but a symptom. Although it occurs in multiple conditions through various pathophysiologic processes, the end result is the loss of serum proteins into the GI tract. Protein losses from other regions of the GI tract are also considered PLE.
Hypoalbuminemia can result from protein loses through the skin, the kidneys, or the respiratory tract as well as decreased synthesis in the face of normal turnover.
PLE is generally secondary to 1 of 3 mechanisms:
Molecular changes in the epithelial barrier in the absence of other signs of pathology