Eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE), a disorder identified by its esophageal mucosal features, often is associated with esophageal motility abnormalities, which are manifestations of esophageal muscle dysfunction. Those motility abnormalities sometimes normalize with treatments that reduce esophageal eosinophilia, suggesting that eosinophils can cause reversible esophageal motility disturbances, perhaps by releasing myoactive and neuroactive eosinophil products. Although achalasia uncommonly is associated with EoE as currently defined, most achalasia patients have evidence of an abnormal accumulation of eosinophils and/or their degranulation products in the esophageal muscularis propria, a location inaccessible to routine endoscopic evaluation. Achalasia is an idiopathic condition resulting from destruction of neurons in the myenteric plexus of the esophagus, and degranulating eosinophils release toxic proteins capable of destroying those neurons, thereby causing the irreversible motility abnormalities of achalasia. This report reviews data on the association of esophageal eosinophilia with achalasia and other esophageal motility abnormalities. Based on this review, we propose that EoE, like eosinophilic gastroenteritis, might have mucosal-predominant and muscle-predominant forms with different clinical manifestations. A muscle-predominant form of EoE could underlie a variety of reversible and irreversible esophageal motility disorders, including achalasia. The concept that esophageal motility abnormalities might develop from a muscle-predominant form of EoE warrants serious consideration and further investigation.
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