A study of splenic function in 28 patients with adult coeliac disease showed no significant correlation between the half life of heat-damaged red cells and either the duration of pre-treatment exposure to gluten or the length of time on a gluten free diet. A significant correlation was found between splenic size and duration of treatment; those patients who had been taking a gluten free diet for the longest time had the smallest spleens. Blood films from 11 of these 28 patients taken before treatment with a gluten free diet were compared with those taken between two and 15 years after the start of treatment. There was no tendency for the hyposplenic changes to regress. In the majority, the changes became more prominent despite strict adherence to the gluten free diet. These findings suggest that splenic atrophy in adult coeliac disease is not reversed by treatment with a gluten free diet and is unlikely to be related to the state of the jejunal mucosa or the duration of initial exposure to gluten.
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