BackgroundPrimary hypertrophic osteoarthropathy (PHO) is a rare disease related to HPGD and SLCO2A1 gene mutation. Gastrointestinal involvement of PHO is even rarer with unknown pathogenesis. Clinical features of GI complication in PHO mimics other auto-immune based bowel entities, such as inflammatory bowel diseases and cryptogenic multifocal ulcerous stenosing enteritis (CMUSE). We aimed to analyze the clinical, genetic, radiological and pathological features of Chinese patients with PHO and determine the difference between PHO patients presenting with and without GI involvement.MethodsWe reported two PHO cases with gastrointestinal involvement and reviewed all the studies of PHO in Chinese population published from January 1, 2000, to April 30, 2018. Clinical and genetic presentations of PHO in Chinese patients were analyzed. We compared the characteristics of those patients with gastrointestinal involvement against those without.ResultsThe two patients were both males with complete-form PHO for more than 10 years. GI related symptoms included diarrhea, chronic gastrointestinal hemorrhage, incomplete intestinal obstruction, anemia, and edema, which were unresponsive to etoricoxib treatment. Radiological examinations revealed segmental intestinal stenosis and thickened intestinal wall. Endoscopic findings included multiple ulcers and mucosal inflammation. Both patients had mutations of SLCO2A1 according to sequence analysis. The surgical pathology revealed chronic inflammation involving the intestinal mucosa and submucosa, similar to histological changes in CMUSE. According to the systemic review of 158 Chinese patients with PHO, 17.2% had gastrointestinal involvement, including peptic ulcer, gastric polyps, hypertrophic gastritis, and segmental intestinal stenosis. Patients with gastrointestinal involvement were more likely to have anemia (40.0% vs. 4.5%, P < 0.001), hypoalbuminemia (16.7% vs. 0.9%, P = 0.003), and myelofibrosis (19.0% vs. 0.9%, P = 0.002) than those without. Most patients with gastrointestinal complication had SLCO2A1 mutation (86.7%, 13 /15).ConclusionsDigestive tract involvement is uncommon in patients with PHO and often presents with anemia, and hypoalbuminemia resulted from intestinal inflammation. The intestinal pathologic characteristics are distinct from Crohn’s disease but similar to CMUSE. Mutations in SLCO2A1 might be the pathogenic cause of GI involvement of PHO. NSAIDs may not be effective for PHO patients with gastrointestinal complications.