BACKGROUND & AIMS - Ménétrier's disease is a rare premalignant hypertrophic gastropathy characterized by large rugal folds, foveolar hyperplasia with glandular atrophy, hypochlorhydria, and hypoalbuminemia. Patients with severe disease often exhibit refractory nausea and vomiting and require gastrectomy. Evidence from both mice and human beings suggests a critical role for epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) signaling in the pathogenesis of this disease. We previously reported significant clinical and biochemical improvement of a single patient treated for 1 month with Erbitux, a monoclonal antibody that blocks ligand binding to EGFR.
METHODS/RESULTS - We describe 2 patients who were given longer-term treatment with Erbitux as an alternative to gastrectomy. The first patient presented with nausea, hypoalbuminemia, and peripheral edema that required total parenteral nutrition (TPN) and infusions of albumin. On institution of Erbitux, there was rapid improvement in nausea and vomiting and stabilization of serum albumin with discontinuation of TPN and albumin infusions. Serum albumin remained stable during a 1-year course of Erbitux without supplemental protein. Application before and after Erbitux of the radiopaque dye ruthenium red to biopsies of the gastric oxyntic gland mucosa demonstrated prompt and persistent closure of tight junctions by electron microscopy. The second patient presented with chronic gastric bleeding that required bimonthly blood transfusions. During a 4-month course of Erbitux, his hematocrit stabilized, and transfusion requirements were eliminated.
CONCLUSIONS - The present report demonstrates the efficacy of prolonged Erbitux therapy in patients with different presentations of severe Ménétrier's disease and also provides insight into the pathophysiology of the protein-losing gastropathy.