Rosetting techniques were used to estimate T and B cell subpopulations in the peripheral blood in patients with treated and untreated adult coeliac disease and in control subjects. In patients with untreated coeliac disease, T cell numbers were significantly lower than in controls or treated patients, although there was no difference in total lymphocyte counts. There was no significant difference in B cell numbers between treated and untreated patients, and the subpopulation which increased to replace the T cells in untreated patients comprised cells not identified by B or T cell markers. Total lymphocyte counts and lymphocyte subpopulations were affected by splenic atrophy. It is suggested that these effects might be caused by the loss of lymphocytes from the gastrointestinal tract in untreated coeliac disease.
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