The jejunal morphological and functional response to either a gluten-free diet or corticosteroid therapy was studied in six patients with dermatitis herpetiformis. In each treatment group there were two patients with subtotal villous atrophy and one with partial villous atrophys. After treatment, in both groups, morphological improvement was seen in villous and surface cell heights, mucosal thickness, and intraepithelial lymphocyte counts. Jejunal function was assessed using the perfusion technique. Absorption of glucose from a 56 mM solution was shown to improve. Water movement from this solution was in a secretory state in four patients (two in each group) before treatment and moved into the normal absorptive range after treatment. These results further outline the similarity between the mucosal lesion of dermatitis herpetiformis and true coeliac disease.
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