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August 4, 1962


JAMA. 1962;181(5):434-435. doi:10.1001/jama.1962.03050310074014

Fifty-five years ago, G. H. Whipple1 described the features of the unusual gastrointestinal disorder which now bears his name. His classical morphological description of the lesions encountered in the gastrointestinal tract and mesenteric lymph nodes characterized by conspicuous lipid-laden microcysts suggested, to him as well as many subsequent observers, that the disease might represent an intestinal form of lipodystrophy. Little significant information in this regard was provided until 1949, when Black-Schaffer2 noted that the histiocytes present within the lesions (also noted by Whipple) possessed a mucopolysaccharide moiety in their cytoplasm which was vividly demonstrated by the then recently described periodic acid-Schiff histochemical procedure.

This finding provoked speculation that Whipple's disease might be related to an alteration of intestinal mucin (also periodic acid-Schiff positive), that it might be due to a change in intestinal ground substance, or that the material was present in the circulation and was subsequently phagocytized

Whipple, G. H.:  Hitherto Undescribed Disease Characterized Anatomically by Deposits of Fat and Fatty Acids in Intestinal and Mesenteric Lymphatic Tissue ,  Bull Johns Hopkins Hosp 18:382-391 ( (Sept.) ) 1907.
Black-Schaffer, B.:  Tinctorial Demonstration of Glycoprotein in Whipple's Disease ,  Proc Soc Exp Biol Med 72:225-227 ( (Oct.) ) 1949.Crossref
Sieracki, J. C.:  Whipple's Disease: Observations of Systemic Involvement: I. Cytologic Observations ,  Arch Path 66:464-467 ( (Oct.) ) 1958.
Sieracki, J. C., and Fine, G.:  Whipple's Disease: Observations on Systemic Involvement: II. Gross and Histologic Observations ,  Arch Path 67:81-93 ( (Jan.) ) 1959.
Haubrich, W. S.; Watson, J. H. L.; and Sieracki, J. D.:  Unique Morphologic Features of Whipple's Disease: Study by Light and Electron Microscopy ,  Gastroenterology 39:454-468 ( (Oct.) ) 1960.