A stereological analysis of epithelial structure at the lateral surface of the tongue showed that iron deficiency anaemia was associated with reduced epithelial thickness despite the absence of overt mucosal abnormalities. The epithelial atrophy was entirely due to a reduction in the size and number of cells in the maturation compartment. By contrast, the progenitor cell compartment was increased in thickness due to an increase in the number of cells. This hyperplastic reaction may be a trophic response to the overall loss of epithelium in this condition.
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