It has been established that considerable blast-transformation and mitotic activity occurs among epithelial lymphocytes of untreated coeliac mucosa. This paper is concerned solely with the proliferative activity of epithelial lymphocytes (expressed as percentage "mitotic index") in the prospective diagnosis of coeliac disease, in comparison with other conditions such as lymphoma. Crohn's disease and immunodeficiency which are often associated with malabsorption and flattening of jejunal mucosa. The results demonstrate that a high mitotic index (greater than 0.2%) clearly distinguishes, and hence predicts, gluten-associated enteropathies (including dermatitis herpetiformis and malignant histiocytosis) from others in which gluten plays no aetiological role and where the mitotic index differs insignificantly from normal control mucosae (much less than 0.2%). Furthermore, it has been demonstrated that the mitotic index is raised in so-called "non-responsive coeliacs," thus suggesting that such patients may also be gluten-sensitive despite their subsequent failure to respond morphologically to dietary gluten restriction.
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