Twenty-four children with coeliac disease were compared with a control group, comprising 17 children with a variety of gastroenterological disorders, with respect to serum immunoglobulins and dietary protein antibodies. Elevated levels of IgA and abnormally low levels of IgM were demonstrated in one third of the coeliac patients. Antibodies to at least one of eight dietary proteins were found in 50% of coeliac children. Three children with raised levels of serum IgA and two with deficient IgM were re-examined after varying periods on a gluten-free diet. Antibodies to dietary proteins had waned and immunoglobulin levels returned to normal in all cases. The raised IgA was considered to have resulted from an extensive immunological response to antigens of dietary origin which had entered through the abnormal gut mucosa. It is suggested that IgM deficiency was due to specific inhibition of IgM synthesis by dietary components which had also entered through the mucosa.
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