An accurate morphometric method is described for quantifying the intraepithelial lymphocytes (IEL), the area of the epithelium, and the volume of the lamina propria in jejunal mucosa of coeliac patients. All measurements are related to a unit-length of muscularis mucosa which is unaltered by the disease process. The results show a significant decrease in the epithelial surface area and an increase in the volume of the lamina propria in coeliac jejunal mucosa compared with normal levels, even after treatment. The number of IEL is the same as normal before or after treatment. Other workers have shown an apparent increase in IEL in untreated disease which returns to normal levels after therapy. This discordance is explained and the importance of accurate quantitative methodology is stressed.
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